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The Oblates of St Charles in the Diocese of West- 
minster have long had the intention of publishing an 
Endish version of Giussano's Life of their Founder. 
Now at last this purpose, so many years delayed, is 
happily accomplished. The time of its fulfilment is 
opportune, for on the 4th of next November will fall 
the third centenary of St Charles's death, at the early 
age of forty-six years. 

He was born in 1538 when the Lutheran heresy 
was in its full sway. The schism of England was then 
complete ; and the first meeting of the Council of Trent 
had been held at Yicenza. He died in i 584, when the 
north of Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark were 
lost to the faith. The blood of many martyrs had been 
shed in England, and the decrees of the Council of Trent 
had already aroused the profound reaction which has 
raised the Catholic Church to its present spiritual 
purity and power. In the brief space of forty-six, or 
rather of four and twenty years, St Charles accom- 
plished a work which has made him the patron of the 
Pastoral Office of the Church, as St Thomas of Canter- 
bury is the patron of its liberties. 

VI Preface. 

No one can form an adequate conception either of 
the work accomplished by the Council of Trent, or of 
the wise and effective execution of its decrees by St 
Charles, unless he shall have already acquired a 
knowledge of the state of the Church in Europe, and 
above all in Italy, at that date. 

The great Western Schism, as it is called, when the 
kingdoms of Europe for many years subtracted their 
obedience from the Popes of doubtful election, had 
greatly weakened both the instinct of unity, and the 
recognition of authority. National churches began to 
assert their self-sufficiency, and Metropolitans openly 
claimed the power to confirm the election of Bishops. 
Both France and England learned this evil lesson of 
independence. In France it issued only in Galli- 
canism, but in England in a permanent schism. The 
Preamble of the 24th of Henry VIII. affirms this self- 
sufficiency in explicit terms. The whole of the north 
of Europe was thus prepared for separation. The 
Teutonic and Scandinavian races, of whom many had 
received the faith so late as the eleventh, twelfth, or 
even, as the Wends, the thirteenth century, were 
less intimately assimilated to the unity of the Chris- 
tian world. They readily fell away, and their influ- 
ence penetrated into Catholic lands, even into France 
and Italy. For three hundred years an intellectual 
movement not only anti- Catholic, but essentially anti- 
Christian, had been rising and spreading in Central 
Italy. It was the conscious and deliberate exhuma- 
tion of Paganism. The languages and the literature 
the intellectual ideas and the moral aberrations, the 

Preface. vii 

scepticism and the sensuality of the Greek and the 
Soman world were revived, elaborately defended, and 
deliberately taught in books, in colleges, in theatres, in 
society. The intellectual taste and tone and fashions 
of the courts in Italy, and of the men who reigned over 
the public opinion of the time were explicitly Pagan. 
Not only the infidel philosophers, who kept lamps 
burning before the busts of Plato and Aristotle, wrote 
and spoke as Pagans, but grave theologians and pious 
authors invoked Dii Superi, and warned sinners to 
repentance lest they should be ad in/emi triremes 
damnatos. Under such an obscuration of the light of 
heaven, it is no wonder that the faith and morals of 
men became profoundly corrupt The Church in the 
fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries was 
passing through an atmosphere infected and poisoned 
by a manifold pestilence. Only the Church of the 
Living God, like its Head, immortal, could have lived 
through such a miasma of spiritual death. 

It was precisely to expel this plague that the Council 
of Trent laboured for eighteen years, and it was in a 
special manner that St Charles was called to direct the 
Council of Trent He was to be the first to carry its 
decrees into the life and action of the Church. 

In the year 1 560, and at the age of twenty-two, he 
was raised to the Sacred College, and became Secretary 
of State to his uncle, Pius IV. From that time the 
whole guidance of the Holy See over the Council in 
Trent passed through his hands. He ordered a special 
archivium to be prepared in his residence in which all 
the correspondence and documents of the Council ^er^ 

viii Preface. 

laid ap. It had an outer chamber called the iScnufim for 
its ordinaij cQirespondence, and an inner chamber called 
the jSxncficm jStmdonMi, in which the decrees and defi- 
nitions of the Council were deposited. The couriers 
who brought letters from Trent were admitted at any 
moment of day or n%ht, and it was his express order 
that he should be wakened up from sleep on their 
arriving in the night. The proposition of all matters 
to be discussed in an (Ecumenical Council resides in 
the Head of the Church. No new matter could be 
introduced, and none withdrawn without the authority 
of the Holy See. How close an oversight of the pro- 
ceedings of the Council this implies is obvious. One 
signal instance of it is on record. A decree was pro- 
posed renewing the definition of the Council of Flor- 
ence, in which the Boman Pontiff is declared to be the 
Supreme Teacher of all Christians. This caused much 

Many of the Spanish and Italian Bishops desired to 
make the implicit meaning of this decree to be explicit : 
defining thereby what it was reserved for the Council 
of the Vatican to complete. But the French Bishops, 
led by the Cardinal of Lorraine, offered so strong a 
resistance that the matter was referred to Rome, and 
the Cardinal Legates were directed to withdraw the 
subject It is useless now to speculate what might 
have been the history of the last three hundred years, 
if the Council of Trent had declared the Doctor and 
Pastor of all Christians, when he defines any matter 
of faith and morals as Head of the Church, in teaching 
the universal Church, to be by divine assistance pre- 

Preface. ix 

served from error. The Four Gallican Articles 
might never have existed, and the uncertainties and 
contentions resulting from them would never have 
arisen. But the Divine Head of the Church per- 
mitted it to be otherwise, and laid upon the Council 
of the Vatican the duty of taking up again and 
making perfect what the Council of Plorence had 
begun. All these grave questions of discretion must 
have passed through the hands of St. Charles, and the 
decision is in complete harmony with the prudent and 
deliberate character which appears in the twenty years 
of his episcopate in Milan. 

Tlie Council had linj^ered with many interruptions 
from its first convocation in 1536 to 1563. The sit- 
tings were suspended four or five times, sometimes for 
months, once for four years, again for two, finally for 
ten. At last it met in January 1562, and it was 
closed in December 1563. The firm and vigilant 
will of St. Charles then pressed the Council to its con- 
clusion. It was confirmed by Pius IV. in January 
1564, by tlie Constitution, BeJiedictiis Deris, The 
same Pontiff reserved to the Holy See the interpreta- 
tion of the decrees of the Council, and constituted a 
perpetual tribunal, called the Congregation of the 
Council, for that purpose. In 1566 was also pub- 
lished the Catechism of the Council of Trent for the 
guidance of the Pastors of the ChurcL These two 
acts of supreme wisdom were known to be the result 
of the counsels of St Charles, and with these events his 
career in Borne came to a close. On the Feast of St. 
Ambrose in 1563^ he was consecrated Archbishop of 

X Prefiut. 

Milan, and in spite of all efibrts to zetain him in the 
aenrice of the Holy See he hastened to reside in the 
midst of his flocks tor whioh in twenty yean he wore 
oat his life. 

The record of his episcopate is to be found in the 
two volumes of the Ada SeeUsioB ilediolanemU. They 
■ consist of the decrees of six Provincial Councils, and 
1^ of eleven Diocesan Synods held by him ; of the rules 
and constitutions of various Conrmtemities of Devo- 
tion ; and especially of the Congregation of the Oblates 
of St Ambrose, Patron of the Church at Milan.^ There 
is no part of a Bishop's diocesan administration \rhick 
is not to be found iu these acts reduced to the most pre- 
cise order and system. The whole l^;islation of the 
province, and of the diocese of Milan is there deli- 
neated like the work of a master builder in all its 
structure, symmetry, and unity. SapterUia cedifieavit 
sibi domum. Wisdom has there built an imperishable 
house. 'It is a whole of great proportions, complete 
in outline and finished in the minutest details. Next 

^ The Acti of the Church of Milan are also printed in one Tolnme of 
Z373 pngei. No adequnte idea of their extent and miunteneia can he 
giTen hj a mere detoription. They are diTidcd into eight parti : — 

z. The Aoti of the lix ProTincial Councils of Milan. 

3. The Acta of the eloTon Diocesan Synods. 

3. The Edicts on various parts of Dtseiplioe. for Clergy and Laity. 

4. Instruotions as to preaching, administration of Sacraments, Fabrie 
4 of Churches, Festivals, and the like. 

5. Institutions or Rules for the Arehbt«hop*s Household, for the Con* 
gregation of the Oblates, for the Confraternities of the Christian Doctrine, 
of the Blessed Sacrament, of Charity, of St. Ursula, of the Oratory, of 
Nuns, of the Seminary, ko, 

6. Tabula or directions for Feasts, Vigils, Synods, Censures, and the 

' 7. Pastoral Letters, nineteen in number, and Sermons in Synods. 
8. Forms and Instnunents of Diocesan Adminittrat ion. 

Preface. xi 

to the Collection of the (Ecumenical Councils there is 
no work of enclesiastical and spiritual legislation so 
perfect as the acts of the Church of Milan. In them the 
Council of Trent is to be seen translated into provincial 
and diocesan administration for the reform of all orders 
of the Church. 

And in these events appears a manifest work of 
Divine Providence. 

The fifteenth century was marked by the fall of 
the Christian empire of the East. The Mahomedan 
Antichrist had already laid waste three of the four 
Oriental Patriarchates. Constantinople was the last 
to fall. The desolation of the Eastern Church was then 
complete. The following century was also marked by 
a visitation which has made desolate the sanctuaries 
of many kingdoms and realms of northern Europe; 
then Catholic Kome itself was sacked and outraged by 
every kind of sacrilege. While this work of defor- 
mation and of ruin was wrecking and rending dioceses 
and provinces from Catholic unity, a reformation was 
wrought within the Church itself. No evil was so 
strong as to escape its power, or so small as to escape 
its discernment The five and twenty sessions of the 
Cotmcil of Trent have each a twofold effect ; the one to 
define or to defend the irreformable faith ; the other to 
reform the moral disorders and corruptions of external 
discipline, and of human traditions. 

In the work of the sixteenth century, three men, 
three friends of one will but of various gifts and of 
manifuld inspirations, worked to one end with great 
diversity of operation, but with perfect unity of ainu. 

xii Prefaci. 

To St Ignatius was assigned the work of combating 
and reducing the intellectnal aberrations and the 
manifold heresies of the Protestant revolt^ and of con- 
forming the way of life of the regular Orders to the 
needs of the modem world. To St Philip was given 
the work of recalling Eome from the fascinations of 
the TenMcimffnio to the life of Christian perfection 
in the world, without cloister and without vows.^ 
To St. Charles was committed the ofBce of raising 
once more the priesthood to the state of perfection in 
which its Divine Founder created and left it 

The Divine Exemplar of sacerdotal and pastoral 
perfection was in the beginning manifested to the 
world in the Person of the only High Priest and 
Shepherd of souls. 

When He ordained His Apostles to be priests He 
laid upon them His own priesthood, with the law of 
following in His footsteps and being like to Himself. 
His Priests wiere to be the images aud likeness of His 
own perfection. They were to* manifest that perfec- 
tion among men ; and not only to manifest it but to 
communicate it to others. They were to be ftrfedorea 
aliorum, the perfectors of other men ; and by impressing 
His perfection on others to perpetuate it to the end of 
the world. This law and office attaches to the priest- 

1 On the day after St. Philip died. May 27, 1595, Baroniaa wrote to 
the Oratory ia Naplea aa foUowa : '* I aend yoa the CapUofo^ that ia to 
aay, the Decree never to change the Congregation into a religioua order 
with vowa. The aaid Capitolo onr Father left na in theae hia laat days 
of eonraleaoence, aa hia final teatament, and the foundation -atone of the 
Congregation. It waa deeply pondered by na all, and by all aolemnly 
ratified and accepted ; nor do I doubt that yon, aa hia aona and heira, 
will accept the laat codicil of the holy and bleaaed teatator." — Life of SL 
nUip Jfgrif by Capecalatro, Azchbiahop of Capna, toL iL p. 457. 

Preface. xiii 

hood as such, not only as it exists in the Bishop, but as 
it exists also in the Priest ; called of the second order, 
not because there are two priesthoods, but because the 
episcopate contains the priesthood, but is an order dis- 
tinct from the priesthood itself by divine institution. 
For this reason, St. John Chrysostom and Theodoret 
apply to Bishops and Priests alike the exhortations and 
injunctions of St. Paul to St Timothy and St Titus. 
Wlien St Paul says " that the man of God be perfect," 
he is not speaking exclusively to Bishops but inclusively 
to Priests : when the schoolmen taught that there can 
be no oflBce higher than the priesthood, because of the 
consecration of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, 
they were right in their reasoning, because in the epis- 
copate there is no power higher than the power of 
consecration and of sacrifice Some of the schoolmen 
had taught that the episcopate is higher than the priest- 
hood by jurisdiction alone. St Charles perceived that, 
by the divine institution of the priesthood, perfection 
is required as a condition to receiving it ; and as the law 
also of the Priest's life when invested with it ; both for 
his own sake and for the effect of his life and priesthood 
upon others; or in other words, that the priest- 
hood was instituted to reflect, to perpetuate, and to 
communicate His perfection to mankind. And this 
perfection is what in theology is called the essential 
perfection of the person, as distinguished from the 
instrumental state, into which the imperfect may 
enter to acquire perfection: but no man may enter 
the priesthood except to exercise perfection already 
acquired, in order to make others perfect Perceiving 

xiv Preface. 

tills, and pereeiTing with the intenaitj of his saintlj 
discernment how many both Bishops and Priests had 
decUned from the high level and standard of their 
state* and that the decline of the priesthood is the 
rain of the world, for the priesthood is the light 
of the world and the salt of the earth, the conclusion 
became inevitable and imperative : — Bestore the light 
and savour of the priesthood, and the world will walk 
ia its light and be seasoned with its purity. It was 
upon tliis point, therefore, that his zeal concentrated 
its whole intensity. No man more honoured and 
loved the sons of St Dominic among whom he lived 
in Home, and of St Francis, who were his companions 
in Milan ; and all Itegular Orders as such. But he 
saw that they were not the priesthood of the Universal 
Church divinely ordained for the care of the flock. 
He honoured them as instrumental states in which 
individuals may acquire perfection ; but he knew that 
the Priesthood must already possess it ; that all Orders 
by their isolation and special way of life are separated 
from the Episcopate and from the cure of souls. All this 
forced upon his reason the self-evident truth that the 
hanum universale JEcdesice, the salvation of the universal 
flock, depends upon the universal Pastoral care; that 
the universal Pastoral care is the office of the world- 
wide episcopate, including the universal priesthood; 
that nothing less than this can do the work or execute 
the commission which our Divine Master gave to His 
Church : " 60 ye therefore and make disciples of all 
nations." But the Church contains in itself the means 
of its own sanctification and the discipline of its own 


Preface. xv 

perfection ; the priesthood is the divinely instituted 
.means for its own perfect sanctification, and the 
instrument of the perfection of the whole body of the 
Church. St. Philip tauc^ht that the life of perfection 
needs no vows. St Charles that the Priesthood and 
Pastoral Office were instituted in perfection without 
vows; and that the universal cure of souls demands 
an intimate union of the priesthood with the episcopate 
by obedience, whether by promise, by oblation, or if any 
so will also by vows ; for such a vow would not separate 
the Priest from the Bishop, but would bind more closely 
to him ; nor from the pastoral care, but would unite 
the pastor more intimately to the chief shepherd in 
each flock. No union can be conceived more intimate 
than this. It is a relation of authority, oversight, 
care, guidance, direction, defence, provision, and re- 
sponsibility ; that is to say in the Bishop, of govern- 
ment, in the Priest, of close personal care. No metaphor 
can express more precisely the idea of authority and 
of dependence, than that of a shepherd and his sheep. 
It implies mutual claims, bonds and obligations which 
unite them more nearly even than those of kindred. 
"I know mine, and mine know me." "The sheep 
hear his voice, and he calleth his own sheep by name ; 
and leadeth them out And when he hath led out 
his own sheep, he goeth before them ; and the sheep 
follow him, because they know his voice." •' The 
hireling and he that is not the shepherd, whose own 
sheep they are not {cujus non sunt oves proprice), seeth 
the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and fleeth." 
This is a divine vision which teaches the relation of 

xvi Pre/acg. 

pr o perty between the true thepherd and hie flock. 
The sheep are hit own, and the shepherd is thein. 
Thej belong to one another ; and Iiave matoal rights 
in each other. It was this divine law which inspired 
the whole mind of St Charles. Every saint represents 
some ray of the mind or life or work of our Divine 
Moster. St Charles represents the Good Shepherd; 
and this it is wluch has given to St Charles a place 
of special authority. He is the saint of the Holy See, 
the source of all pastoral authority ; of the episcopate 
which is the pastoral body ; of tlie priesthood which 
shares in all the world the pastoral care of Uie 
episcopate. The name of St Charles, therefore, reigns 
in the hearts of Bishops and Priests. 

There has never been but one Church alone, but 
there have been many worlds. There has been a 
pagan world, a christian world, an imperial world, a 
dynastic world, a world of profound corruption, scourged 
and wrecked by a heretical world, soon, it seems, to be 
enveloped in a revolutionary world, anti-Catholic, anti- 
Christian, anti-sociaL The world at this day is war- 
ring not only against Catholic faith, but against Chris- 
tianity ; and not against the supernatural alone, but 
against human society ; that is, the world is warring 
against itself. A world apostate from God must be 
suicidaL It destroys authority, law, morality, and 
the homes of men. How, then, can it stand ? But 
through all this the Church moves on, imperishable in 
its life, and inexhaustible in spiritual light and power. 
The souls of men will ever need to be saved ; and the 
salvation of souls will ever need the pastoral care. 

Preface. xvii 

The poor will never cease out of the land, and the 
pastors of souls will never cease to watch over them. 
The need and the care are both, while the world lasts, 
indefectibla The work of St. Charles was the renewal 
of the pastoral fervour of the Good Shepherd. It was 
no new way of life, drawn up by books and constitu- 
tions. It was the law and state founded by our great 
High Priest, — old as the faith, inherent in the priest- 
hood, needed in all times, and vital in all the world. 
AMieresoever there are souls to be saved, there is the 
pastor's work ; and there will be the life of St. Charles 
as the pattern, and the mind of St. Charles as the rule, 
of sacerdotal perfection. How profoundly he was 
penetrated and inflamed by the pastoral love of souls 
may be seen in the following words of his address to 
the Bishops and Priests in the second Provincial Coun- 
cil of Milan : — 

" Fathers, this is our duty, and our office, placed as 
we are in the exalted seat of episcopal dignity, to look 
out for dangers as from a watch-tower, and to repel 
them when they threaten those who are resting under 
our charge and care. As parents we ought to have a 
fatherly oversight of our sons ; as pastors never to take 
our eyes off the sheep which Jesus Christ has delivered 
by His holy death from the mouth of hell; and if 
any are being corrupted by the impurity of vice, to 
heal them with the sharpness of salt : if any be wan- 
dering in moral darkness, we ought to hold the light 
before them ; for as the Supreme Creator of all things, 
when in the beginning He made the heavens which 
we behold, adorned them with a multitude of stars 

VOL. L >> 



xviii Preface. 

illuminated by the splendour of the sun to shine bj 

night upon the earth, so in the spiritual renewal of j| 

this world He has placed in the Church, as in the 

firmament of heaven, prophets and apostles, pastors 

and doctors, who, like stars, illuminated bj the light 

of Christ our Lord, the everlasting Sun, preside over 

the darkness of this clouded world, to drive away 

darkness from the minds of men by the splendour of 

a noble and holy disciplina These, then, the Wisdom 

of heaven has willed to be pastors, and to succeed in 

the place of the apostles as fathers; as the prophet 

says, * For thy fathers there are bom unto thee sons.' 

Why is it then that we do not imitate them as fathers, 

guides, and teachers ? They in the first constituting of 

the Christian commonwealth, and in the greatest stress 

of difficulties, used to meet in council, and while they 

illuminated the face of the world involved in the 

darkness of error by the light of evangelical discipline, 

they also set to us the example how to restore order 

to the world." 

Again, after describing the inflexible constancy of 
those who are on fire with a burning ardour for the 
salvation of souls, he adds, " But if we act otherwise, 
at the fearful judgment of God, when we shall give an 
account of the souls entrusted to our charge and care, 
we shall hear their accusing cries, and the anger 
of the Judge shai-ply upbraiding us, and saying: If 
you were watchmen, why were you blind ? if pastors, 
why did you let the flock committed to you wander ? 
if the salt of the earth, how did you lose its savour ? 
if you were the light, why did you not shine to them 

Preface. xix 

that ' sat in darkness and the shadow of death V if 
apostles, why did you not use apostolic power, why did 
you do all things for the eyes of men ? if you were 
the mouth of the Lord, why were you dumb ? if you 
knew yourselves to be unequal to this burden, why so 
ambitious ? if equal to it, why so careless and neglect- 
ful ? " — Oral, in 2d Cone. Prov., pp. jy, So. 

The mediaeval world is passed away ; the modem is 
a missionary world, not outside of the Catholic unity 
alone but within it, — among the Christian people, 
jealous of the name, but many so unworthy of it. 
The modem world is the world not of anchorites or of 
recluses, but of apostles, pastors, and fishers of men. In 
all the Catholic unity the episcopate and the priesthood 
are roused into an unresting activity. It is the age of 
pastors, and to every pastor's heart St Charles is dear. 

St. Charles intensely saw and grasped this master 
tmth : that while the priesthood is holy the laity will 
follow in their footsteps ; where the priesthood is 
relaxed the people fall. He saw also that all raising 
of the laity must begin by the raising of the priest- 
hood. The Council of Trent would have taught him 
this tmth even if he had not seen it from his child- 
hood, when he refused to appropriate ecclesiastical 
revenues for which he rendered no service. His first 
work, therefore, in Milan, was the reform of the 
clergy. His chief sufferings and the risks of his life 
came from the clergy who would not be reformed. 
All this led him upward to the Great Exemplar, the 
Good Shepherd, and the first pastors of the universal 
flock. They were by their priesthood and its obliga- 

XX Preface. 

tions in the state of perfection, united to tlieir head, 
the Vicar of their Divine Master, serving the flodk by 
the law of liberty, in charity and free obedience. 
And this divine reality, in all its beauty, lay hid 
under the burdens and trappings and privileges and 
possessions with which the priesthood and the episco- 
pate were encumbered and corrupted. 

The first great evil with which the Council of Trent 
had to contend was the non-residence of bishops, 
canons, and clergy. They were to a great extent 
drawing the revenues of dioceses and benefices, and 
living at a distance, immersed either iu secular offices 
or in slothful iudulgence. The decrees as to the resi- 
dence of Bishops cut up this abuse by the roots. 
When St Charles was appointed to the archbishopric 
of Milan no Archbishop had resided in that see for 
eighty years. His decision to leave Borne, and all 
the honours and offices of the Pontifical Courts was 
instantaneous. No remonstrances could restrain him. 
In his own person he set a prompt example of the 
Tridentine Beform. In September 1565 he entered 
Milan, and except to go to Bome, he never left his 
flock until November 1584, when he passed to' Lis 
eternal rest 

When the plague broke out in 1576, the laity fled 
in multitudes, and of the clergy great numbers followed 
them. St Charles called upon all priests who had the 
will to face the perils of the plague to come to him. 
He formed round himself a body of volimteers who 
offered themselves, and were ready, if need were, to 
lay down their lives for their Master's sake. This 

Preface. xxi 

Tras a return to the early days Trhen Bishop and Priest 
offered themselves a living sacrifice to God. So far 
the salt in Milan had regained its savour. The person 
and presence of St. Charles attracted men of like mind 
to himself. One by one they came to him, and offered 
themselves to serve him in the spirit of his o\rn self- 
oblation to his Divine Master. They became, in the 
midst of a clergy, such as Giussano describes, a prin- 
ciple of the highest sacerdotal and pastoral perfection, 
working and assimilating others to itself. The law of 
their life was the imitation of our Divine Hedeemer, 
" who by the Spirit offered Himself without spot to 
God." Oblalus est quia ipse voliiit. His oblation was 
by His own will. His own will was the offering. 
He came not to do His own will, but the will of the 
Father. Not as I will, but as Thou wilt This obla- 
tion or offering of the will is the most perfect obedi- 
ence, and the surest test of perfection. It was this 
that the threefold enemy of the soul had striven to 
destroy in priests; and it was to revive this, as in 
the beginning, that St. Charles laboured. His whole 
life was in the spirit of the words of the Incarnate Son 
at His coming, " Ecce Venio," " Behold I come," and 
these were his last words in the hour of death. 

In the year after the plague, that is 1577, St. 
Charles founded the congregation of the Oblates, or, as 
the word implies, of those who offered themselves to 
him of their own free will to obey him in the service 
of the Church of Milan. He gave to them a simple 
rule of life ; he assigned to them the church and house 
of St. Sepolcro, where they live in community to this day. 

3Dui Pre/Me. 

Thqr were priests of Milan who, for the mote effectual 
ezerdse of the cuie of souls and of all the rarioos charges 
and offices of the diocese, were hound by an oUotion 
and promise of obedience to their Bishop. After some 
years the oblation of obedience, which was at first con* 
firmed by a promise, was further confirmed by a simple 
vow of obedience. But this vow did not sepamte 
them from their Bishop nor from the cure of souls. 
It bound them more closely than ever to him and 
to the pastoral office. The words of it were : — ** To 
thee, and to thy successors, I promise and vow per- 
petual obedience in all things which shall be enjoined 
me . . . according to the prescribed rule of the Con- 
gregation of the Oblates." 

It was manifestly the intention of St Chorks to 
di£fuse this spirit of generous self-sacrifice throughout 
his whole clergy. He therefore instituted constTrita, 
or societies of Oblates in all parts of the diocese. These 
eatuartia consisted of groups of the 'diocesan clergy, 
under a president^ who was responsible to the Provost 
of SL Sepolcro, and be to the Archbishop. 

The Church and clergy of Milan became the pattern 
of ecclesiastical order, and through all the vicissitudes 
of civil wars and revolutions, and the manifold evils of 
the lost three hundred years, they preserve in a high 
degree the tradition of St. Charles. 

The character of St Charles will be best understood 
by reading his life. He was not a great theologian, or 
a great orator, or a great statesman. But he was a 
great pastor, a ruler, a lawgiver, a guide, and a judge 
in the Church of God. Ko man was more in the 

Preface. xxiii 

world, and less of the world. He was immersed in 
the world from his birth to his death, but the world 
had nothing in him. He knew all the men who were 
ruling the world in his day, and they knew him, but he 
lived apart from them. His world was the sanctuary 
and his flock. Nevertheless, he moved them, or de- 
feated them as his duty demanded of him. He moved 
the world because he did not rest upon it, and the 
world could not move him because he rested upon 

It is not easy to form an estimate of his intellectual 
faculties, for various and voluminous as are the letters, 
pastorals, instructions, and outlines which remain 
to us, they are too brief and occasional to give 
any measure of his power. Nevertheless, they have 
three special notes of a powerful mind — clearness, 
solidity, and simplicity. They are full of patient 
thought and industrious reading brought to bear with- 
out effort on the matter in hand, whether in synod, or 
in preaching, or in conferences to the nuns of Milan. 
Perhaps the chief intellectual power of liis mind was 
the legislative faculty. He had the discernment of a 
master-builder, who can design the constructive lines, 
calculate the dimensions, the masses, resistance, and 
weights in a structure. The acts of his six Pro- 
vincial Councils and his eleven diocesan Synods, in 
which he had to encounter no little opposition and 
much inert resistance, raised a fabric of ecclesiastical 
legislation, which has given precedents to the episco- 
pate of all countries. He was a great law-giver, and the 
intellectual power of law-givers is to be measured not 

XXIV Preface. 

bj the writiDgs but by the stmctiues they leave be- 
hind them. 

As to hia moral powers ; he was a great ruler, and 
the power of role is in the will. His government over 
himself was fh)m his early years complete, and this 
is the first condition of ruling other men. His whole 
episcopate was almost a continuous conflict with the 
Spanish authorities of Milan, with inert colleagues, with 
a relaxed clergy, mutinous religious, and a disorderly 
populace. To this must be added the injurious mis- 
representations carried to Borne against him, and the 
painful misjudgments formed there on imperfect or 
false reports of his actions. The letters written in 
Bome at the time of his death show what he had to 
endure. It needed an inflexible firmness and a great 
faith to bear this cross. In the archives of Vienna 
also, is a letter from Bome dated November 1584, 
which says : " The death of Cardinal Borromeo, though 
it has been felt universally with regret as is fitting, by 
reason of the great and exemplary piety and goodness 
of this holy man, nevertheless there are not wanting 
some who feel a certain contentment because of the 
relief they will receive thereby." * Who can doubt it ? 

It might be thought that a character of such force 
and firmness woidd be wanting in tenderness of heart 
But all through his life are evidences of a delicate care 
of others which is to be found only where charity has 
ripened into all its fruits. The distribution of two 
patrimonies to the poor ; the two purses for alms, and 
one only for his household; his going barefoot at 

1 Habner, Life of Sixtua T., toI. L p. ^, note. 

Preface. xxv 

night lest he should wake his servants from their 
sleep ; his endurance of the stench and misery of the 
homes of his poor, while his companions stood outside 
the threshold, lest he should give them offence ; his 
sitting by the wayside to teach little children to pray ; 
these and many other signs of an exquisite tenderness 
arc to be traced throughout his life. 

With such intensity of natural tenderness, what 
must have been his love of souls ? He was eaten up 
with the threefold zeal for the house of God, for the 
priesthood of Jesus Christ, and for the souls for 
whom He died. He loved with a special affection 
those who had a love of souls ; and we are told that 
to them he could refuse nothing. We have two beau- 
tiful examples of this love which are only a sample 
of the tissue of his whole pastoral life. During the 
pestilence in Milan, he came to a plague-stricken 
house of which the door was made fast It was 
known that a poor mother and her infant were in an 
upper room. There was no access but by a ladder. 
St Charles entered through the window, and finding 
the mother already dead, returned with the infant in 
his arms, — a deed worthy of a picture. The other and 
the last work of his love for souls was when death- 
stricken with fever, he embarked at Arona to return to 
Milan to die. In passing over the lake, he examined 
the boatmen who rowed him, in their knowledge of 
the faith and of their prayers. The good shepherd 
had long ago given his life for the sheep, and his self- 
oblation was now all but accomplished. 

Such a life can be formed only by a faith which 

XXVI Preface. 

lives in the unseen world, while it toils and suffers in 
this ; and bj prayer which is a second consciousness 
at all hours, sustained and deepened bj habitual 
meditation on the Passion of our Sedeemer. The 
Burial of Jesus in the Tomb was his constant medita- 
tion because it was the lowest humiliation of God, and 
perhaps because it promised the only rest he looked 
for in his waning life. 

The impulse given by St. Charles to the pastoral 
clergy of Milan spread to other parts of Italy and into 
France. The Bishop of Vercelli instituted a Congre- 
gation of Oblates ; and in France the Congregations 
of the Missions, of St. Sulpice, of the Holy Ghost, and 
the numberless diocesan congregations ; and, finally, 
the Congregations of the Maristes, and of the Oblates 
of Mary, all these with certain diversities are alike 
in this: They are congregations of secular Priests 
li\'ing by rule and in community. It cannot be 
doubted that this widespread movement was either 
suggested, or directly promoted by the work and acts 
of St. Charles. The higher life of the diocesan clergy 
has been nowhere more luminously manifested than in 
the clergy of France. It does no dishonour to the 
priesthood of other countries to say that they stand at 
the head of the clergy of the old European world. The 
revolution cut down the Church in France as with a 
scythe, but it has risen again in renewed strength, 
stripped of wealth and worldly greatness, but redeemed 
from regalism and all its perils. Its portion now is 
poverty and conflict. This was the state in which St. 
Charles lived by free choice. Surrounded by ecclesias- 

Preface. xxvif 

tical state, with all the medieval traditions of privilege 
and benefices, tribunals and jurisdictions, though he 
was rich, for the sake of souls he made himself poor, 
and appealed by his life and labours to the zeal and 
self-sacrifice of his priests and people. It was so that 
St Vincent of Paul, the Pere Eudes, M. Olier, and 
others renewed the clergy of France. 

It is a strange paradox that what is the first thing 
before us is often the last thing that is seen ; and 
what is the first thing to do is the last thing that is 
done. We might have thought that all would per- 
ceive the first work of our Divine Jlaster to be 
the formation of the Apostles. And that the first 
work of reformation in the Church is the formation 
of the priesthood. St. Charles not only saw this, 
and promptly carried into efiect the Tridentine 
Decree on Seminaries, but he perceived by his clear 
discernment that the formation of the pastors of 
the flock can only be surely eflFected by men experi- 
enced in the pastoral life. It is pastors who best 
know how to form pastors. In one of his MS. letters 
^ IS79» ^0 liis agent in Romfe, Speciano, preserved in 
the Ambrosian Library, he says that a seminary should 
be governed by those who have the same end and 
institution as the seminary itself. Every diocese 
should find and form its own clergy by its own priest- 
hood, thereby becoming the source of sacerdotal and 
pastoral perfection to itself. 

The movement of the seventeenth century in France 
which renewed the face of the Church was the crea- 
tion of seminaries of which St. Charles had given the 

xxvui Pnfaci. 

first example. Such is the chief work of the Church 
this daj. The Lutheran Befonnatiou stripped the 
Church in northern Europe, and the anci-Christion 
Bevolution has stripped it in the west and south. It 
has to begin its work over again by the free oblations 
of the faithful, and in the poverty of its first days. 
It is a missionary among the people of the Old World, 
where once it was a mother and a queen. It is an 
apostle in the New World of the west and of the 
south, where as yet it has only laid the foundations 
of its lioma But wheresoever it be, its chief work is 
always the same, the formation of the pastors of tlie 
flock. It is this which gives to St. Charles an 
undying and an universal influence over the Church 
throughout tlie world. He broke through the tradi- 
tions of worldly ambition, avarice, inertness, which 
crushed and stifled the spiritual life of men, and 
revived in the midst of a sunken age the image and 
the reality of the Good Shepherd, surrounded by Qis 
apostles. Such is the first and chief work of the 
Church in this nineteenth century in the Old World 
and in the New. The Council of Trent has been 
reforming all things that are mutable to this day. 
The Council of the Vatican has taught what in the 
Church is immutable, its infallible authority in faith. 
The third centenary of St. Charles comes as a voice 
calling us to the greatest of our duties, the end for 
which all things are ordained, the care of the souls for 
whom Christ died, and the forming and multiplying 
of pastors, not hirelings or worldlings, but shepherds, 
willing to give their lives for the sheep. 


Tuis life xras first published in the year 1610. Gio- 
vanni Pietro Giussano, its author, was born in Milan 
in the year 1553. At the age of nineteen, in the 
year 1572, after a course of study he took the degree 
of Doctor of Medicine. After following this professicni 
for a few years he gave himself up into the hands of 
St. Charles and devoted himself to the ecclesiastical life. 
He was received by the Saint into his household, and 
became priest and oblate of St. Ambrose. On the 
death of the Saint he retired to Monza to write this 
life, being made by Cardinal Frederic Borromeo a 
conservator of the Ambrosian Library, and died at 
Monza in 1623. See Argellati BiJblxotheca scriptorum 
MedioUmensium, The notes are selected from the 
abundant additions to the text of Giussano by £al- 
thassar Oltrocchi of the oblates of St. Charles, con- 
tained in the Latin version of the same by Bartholomew 
Do Bossi of the same congregation, and published 
at Milan in 1751. 





II. E.VRLT TE.\RS or THE SAINT. I538-I553 ... 5 



PIUS IV. 1560 13 




1562 .-. 27 



X564 35 


I560-I565 51 




BER 10, 1565 66 


RETURNS TO>ILAN, APRIL 5, I566 .... 69 

xxxii Contents. 










MILAN 121 


DICTION. 1567 163 


DIOCESE. 1567 175 










1569 206 



1569 222 


Contents. xxxiii 



1569 236 


1569 244 


TION. 1570 262 



ST. PIUS V. 1570 272 










EVENTS. 1573 311 


LABOURS. 1573 321 





VOL. I. C 

xxxiv Contents. 


▼iL Bmnm TO tfiLAir. Biiu&RU)jf or tbx vuiidb AFfuuinD 


or OBiKoarA ASD BBBOAxa 1575 • • . • 347 











PROCESSIONS ........ 3S7 














OF THE PLAGUE. I577 456 




Prom "Biojrajia di San Cdrlo Borromeo del Prof. Antonio Salit" 
Milan, 1858, and " Ilittoirt de Saint Charies Borroinie,** par M, 
VAbU Charlet Stflrain, Bruges, 18S4, 3 vols. 

Birth of St. Charles 

Death of his mother, Margaret de' Medici, about 
His father marries Thaddea dal Verme, widow of 

Lucrezio Gambara 

John Angelo de' Medici, his uncle, created Car- 
dinal by Pope Paul III 

Coont Julius Caesar Borromeo resigns in his favour 
the abbey of St. Gratinian at Arona. He puts 

on the cassock 

At the age of fourteen ^ he enters at the University 

of PaviA 

His father marries Aurelia Vistarina, widow of 

Count Bolognini ..... 
Death of Count Gilbert Borromeo, his father 
Takes the degree of doctor in canon and civil law 
His uncle, Cardinal de' Medici, elected Pope 

Created Cardinal 

„ Administrator of the diocese of Milan 
„ Secretary of State .... 
Institutes the Aeeademia of the Notti Vaticane 
The Council of Trent reopened 
He sends Mgr. Ferragatta as coadjutor to Milan 
Marriage of his sister Anna to Prince Fabrizio 

Oct. 2, 1538 


Nov. 1552 


) Dec. 
Jan. 31, 




about this time 
Jan. 18, 1562 

April 23, 1562 
July 1562 

^ Giussano makes Charles sixteen years of age when he entered the 
university (p. 8), but is evidently wrong. See St. Charles' own letter in 
Sylvain's HiUoire de Saint Charla Borromie, voL i. p. 19. 

xxxvi Cktwiokigy e/tht Lift of Si, Ckarlts. 

DMth ol hb ddv brotlMr, Comt Fndwle . 
H* tndi the JuuiC Fathen to Ullu . 

Ii onjuanetl Frieit 

The Council of Trant Modndad .... 

Ii consecrated Bialiop 

PuM-iinto tbe Urdtr of Cardinal Friwti 
Fgand* tin CoUr^'c .it Tavia - 
8«ndiSIgr. OnoiuMtuiu Vicnr-G«iwral ■ 
:nnt Dloonu SjriMd bsU in th* oUuMa vt St 


Bq^BDloE ol tiM BTCttt Saminuy of St. John B^tiit 
Bcii|n"'tion of Mgr Onnaneto .... 
St.Ch:ipl«*innkMliii<nEryIntoalil»n . 

Fint Cuuncil 

Summoned to Rom* to thadnth-bedomtM IT. . . 

Election ol SL Fikw V. 

Hetumi to Slilon 

Refonn at hi* liuuMihald tor tba Mcond tine . 
Begini his rtfann of the Knti Umiliati . . ^ . 
Eetalilislim liiiconrraternitieaol CbiutUa doctclna 
Miikes a viiilation of the oit; and dloceie 
Tranifen thooliuroh of San Fetfele, tlie College of 

Brara, und tbe Abbey of Aroni tu ttie Ji;)uit9 
£*tabli<het thu Huuse of Succour" and otb« 

piout foonJationa 

First Eontroveraiei a* to hit archlapiMop*! JDtiadic- 

Vliitation of the three Swiu valle;* 

Miidon to Mantua 

Retonns in tho Frdnciacan order . 
Second DiocsEan Synod 
Second Provinciil Cuuncil 
Edict of the (lovcnwr Albuquerque 
Obduracy of the Oanoni of Ia SaU 
Attempt igiiust hi> life by Farina . 
Puniihment of the aauHln and hii abettora 
SnppreuioD of the order of tbe TTmittati . 
Second visit to the 'sA'ut valltya 
Famine in the Milnui^se provinco . 
Death of the Oovemor Albuquerque 

Battle of Lepanto 

Third Diaceean Synod, held In the abieiice of the 

Death of St. Ftni V. 


•a, Ijfl 



A» IS, I5«3 




7. IS63 











itfit 13. IS6S 






r. ■!» 

























«, IS69 







Chronology of the Life of St. Charles, xxxvii 

He goes to Rome 

Election of Gregory XIII. 

Visits Loretto on his return to Milan 

Resigns the office of Grand Penitentiary 

Prohibits the bacchanalian festivities of Alvaro de 

Sande ......* 

Third Provincial Council .... 

Declares the new Governor De Requesens excom 


Libelii publijfhed throughout the city against the Saint 
Absolution of De Requesens .... 
The Noble College at Milan founded 
Visits Henry III. of France .... 

Fourth Diocesan S}'nod 

Goes to Rome fur the Jubilee .... 
Leaves Rome again for Milan .... 
Assists at the death-bed of Caesar Gonzaga at Gua 


Vi:iitation of the dioceses of Cremona and Bergamo 
The Jubilee of the Holy Year kept at Milan . 
First rumours of the plague .... 
Fourth Provincial Council .... 
Don John of Austria visits ^lilan 
St Charles at Lodi at death of Bishop . 

The plague at Milan 

St. Charles believed dead .... 
Permits the Christmas blessing of the houses'- . 
Letter on ecclesiastics shaving the beard . 
Observance of the first Sunday of Lent enforced 
Procession of the Holy Nail .... 
A second Jubilee obtained for the city . 
Total cessation of the plague .... 

Fifth Diocesan Synod 

Visitation of the three Valleys 

First pilgrimage to Turin to visit the Holy Winding 


Establishment of the Ursulines of Santa Sofia . 
Establishment of the Oblates of St. Ambrose . 
Renewal of the controversy concerning jurisdiction 

Sixth Diocesan Synod 

Visitation of the Diocese of Vigevano 

Foundation of the Swiss College at Milan 

The Convent of Santa Prassede for Capuchinesiea 

founded •.....•• 






* • • 




































xxxviii Ckftmohgy oftki Lifo ofSL CkarUs. 

Fifth FtoTiaeU Coaiea . 

Joomidf to Room for deeidoii on JurbdidkNi 

F. Ginlio Mimrinob 8^^ osnsovsd faj tho Hi^f 


Lmtm Roiim for MUaa by Floranco^ BdIogii% and 

Vonioe .... 
Vliitatioii of DioooM of Bretcta 
Death of the GoYemor A jamonto 
SoTonth Dioootan Synod . 
Minion of Mgr. Baacap6 to Spain 
Saado di Gnorara commandant 
IHaitation of tho Val Camonica 
GivM tho Fint Communion to St Ln^ Gonsaga 
GivM the tonaure to Frederio Boiromeo . 

Eighth Diocesan Synod 

Viiiti Novara^ Vercelli, ^lasino, Arona, and St. 

Gothord ....... 

Pilgrimage to the Abbey of St ^lartin at Dtasentit 
Fmieral obeequies of the Queen of Spain 
Translation of the Image of Onr Lady at Saronno 
Meets Mary of Aiutria, Regent of Portogal, at Lodi 
Ninth Diocesan Synod • 
Sixth Provincial Council .... 

Qhanslation of the body of St. Simplieian 

Second pilgrimage to the Holy Winding Sheet at 

Turin .... 
Visitation of Diocese 
Groes to Guastalla on the death of his sister Camilla 
Starts for Rome ad limina ApotUtUmui . 
The congregation of Sacred Rites begun . 
Leaves Rome for Mantua 
At Mantua and Parma in the matter of the marriage 

of Margarita Famese 
Tenth Diocesan Synod .... 
Death of Ottavio Gonzaga 
Reform of the Armenian Basiliau monks 
Visit to the Madonna of Rho . 
New Governor of Milan, Don Carlos, Duke of Terra 


Foundation of the College of Ascona 

Employed in visitation of diocese . 

Visits sick-bed of Diike of Savoy . 
Visitation of diocese 

M^ 1579 
Sq?t i$79 

Not. 1579 

Jan. 1380 

Blanh 1580 

i^pcil 1580 




June 1580 


Daa 1580 

April 1581 

Jane 1581 


Sept 6, 1581 

... 10, 1581 

Oct I, 1581 


May lOb 1583 

... 27-30^ 1582 

July 1582 

Aug. 1582 
Sept 1582 

Jan. 13, 1583 

Jan.-Oct 1583 

April 1583 

June 1583 







Chronology of the Life of St. C/tarles. xxxix 

Visit of Prince Andrew Batbory to Milan 
Visit to Mesolcina and the Val Calanca . 
Visits Bellinzona and Ascona .... 
Foondation of schools in the Val Mesolcina . 
The Saint continues his exertions in order to snp 

press the license of the carnival 
Lays the foundation of the Church of Our Lady at 


Establishes in the cathedral the Confraternity of 

the Rosary 

Eleventh and last Diocesan Synod . 

Exertions on behalf of the Hospice of St Ambrose 

for Lombard pilgrim priests in Rome 
The Duchess Dorothea of Brunswick socks the advice 

of the Saint 

Consecrates Lmlovico Michcle, Bishop of Alba, and 

Ottavio raravicini, Bishop of ^Vlexandria . 
Visitation of Brianza and Val Assina in conipanj* 

with Alessandro Canigiano, Bishop of Aix 
Receives Cardinal Bathory at Milan 
Foundation of the Convent of Capuchinesses of Santa 

Barbara at Milan, also of a hospital for con 


Goes to Novara to assist at death of the Bishop 

Francesco Bossi 

To Vercelli to arrange certain disputes of the canons 

in the absence of the Bishop Bonomi at the 

Nunciature of Cologne . . . . . 
Proposes Fr. Panigarola for the Bishopric of Novara 
Third visit of the Saint to the Holy Winding Sheet 

at Turin ........ 

Makes pilgrimage to Varallo .... 

Goes to Arona to confer with the Cardinal of Vercelli 
Returns to Varallo — attacked by fever . 

Second attack of fever 

Third attack of fever — goes by Arona to Ascona 
His last episcopal function in Arona 

Journeys to Milan 

His agony and death 

The people flock to venerate his body 

His requiem 

The Congregation of the Oblates of St Ambrose draw 

up the juridical acts of the miracles worked by 

the Saint 




• • • 








— 25, 


• • • 




• • • 



• • • 


Sept. 1584 

• • • 











• • • 


• • • 


• • • 


■ • • 











• • • 



• • • 



• • • 



• • • 





xl Chronology of t/te Life of St. Charles. 

The same is done at Pavia, Cremona, Piacenza, 

Bologna, and Pisa 

Diocesan Synod to promote the Canonisation . 
An embassy sent to Rome from ^lilan for the same 

object >••.... 
The Seventh Provincial Council sends two Bishops 

to promote the cause 

The rdazione of the Auditors is revised in eleven 

congregations of Cardinals .... 
Three consistories held in order to proceed to the 

Canonisation ....... 

The solemn Canonisation celebrated on All-Saints* 

Day, and the 4th November fixed as anniversary 

of the Saint 








Aug. ) 





Nov. I, 1610 


Page 94, line 4 from bottom, note^ for ** T571 " reoc£ ** 1574." 

Page 130, line 4 from bottom, note, for '•Pins IV. " read "Gregory XIII. in 158a" 

Page 224, line la from bottom, for *' Beraabo" read '* Dcraardo." 

Psfl^o 3S4» 1^0 4 from top, for " Luigi " read " Mgr. Clxarlea." 


Soob i. 




Nowhere has the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for 
His Church been more manifest than in the diocese of 
Milan. Founded on the preaching of the Apostle, St. 
Barnabas, its first Bishop, it has never lacked holy 
pastors, who have been careful alike to preserve in its 
integrity the rule of faith delivered to them, and to 
repair the abuses of sin and time. Thirty-five of its 
Bishops have been canonized by the Church, and of 
these twenty sprung from the bosom of its illustrious 
families. Conspicuous amongst them was the great 
doctor, St. Ambrose, the principal patron and protector 
of the city. 

But it was in later times that the love of our Lord 
has been shown more signally. Beligion and piety 
had begun to decline, owing chiefly to the general 

VOL. L k 

2 Life of St. Clmrles Borromeo. 

demoralisation caused by revolutions and the long 
wars that had devastated Italy. The Church of Milan 
had suffered more perhaps than any, when God, in His 
mercy, gave to it a pastor who not only restored its 
ancient glories, but also shone forth pre-eminent as a 
model of sanctity to the priesthood and to the Chris- 
tian commonwealth. 

This was Charles Borromeo, who was bom October 2, 
1538, in the castle of Arona, the son of Gilbert Bor- 
romeo, Count of Arona, and of Margaret de Medici, 
his wife.^ 

Tlie parents of Charles were of noble birth, and 
were eminent for their Christian lives. His father. 
Count Gilbert, was a man of such prudence, that he 
managed to retain possession of his estates, notwith- 
standing the wars between Charles V., Emperor of 
Germany, and Francis I., King of France, and was 
made by the former a colonel and one of the senators 
of Milan. At home he set an example of piety, con- 
fessing and communicating every week,* and reciting 
daily the Divine Office on his knees, which were made 
hard and callous by his long hours of prayer. Clothed 
in sackcloth he frequently spent the hours of the 
night in a little chapel be had built in a grotto on the 
rock of Arona. To his tenants and vassals he was a 
father, taking charge of orphans, and giving portions 

^ Sister of John James de Medici, Marquis of Meleg^ano, a famooa 
captain of the Emperor Charles V., and of John Angelo, Cardinal de 
Medici, afterwards Pope Pius IV., who reigned from 1559 to 1565. 

' The saint related that, in his boyhood, when the bell was rung at the 
preface in high mass, by his father's orders he always went to church 
with his tutor, in oider to be present at the consecration.— 0. 

Birth and Parentage. 3 

to poor girls ; and he was so generous in almsgiving, 
that when his friends told him he would injure his 
children, he used to make answer : " If I take care of 
the poor, God will take care of my children." In a 
prophetic spirit he once said, " After my death my 
sons will be great men, and will not be in any need." 
It was his custom never to sit down to eat without 
first giving an alms to the poor. 

The Countess Marimret was a model of Christian 
matrons. She shunned altogether the contagion of the 
world, never leaving her home save to go to mass 
every day in the neighbouring church, or for some 
other pious purpose. The modesty and humility of 
her bearing gave evidence of the interior union of her 
soul with Grod. 

This pious couple had six children, two sons and 
four daughters, whom they brought up carefully in 
the fear of God. Frederic * was the elder of the two 
sons. He was raised to high dignities by his uncle, 
Pope Pius rV., and married Virginia della Rovere, 
sister of Francis, Duke of Urbino. The younger son 
was Charles, the subject of our history. The daughters 
were Isabella, who became a religious ; Camilla, who 
espoused Csssar Gonzaga, Prince of Molfetta ; Jeronima, 
who wedded Fabricius Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa; 
and Anna, who was the wife of Prince Fabricius 
Colonna, afterwards Viceroy of Sicily. A half-sister, 
Hortensia, daughter of Thaddea dal Verme, second wife 
of Count Gilbert, married Count Hannibal d'Altaemps. 
All these children were good and virtuous. Anna 

^ Died Norember 30, 1562. 

4 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

especially followed closely in the footsteps of her 
brother the Cardinal, and gave herself up entirely to 
God. She practised much self-denial in order to be 
able to give alms ; and on her death at Palermo, in 
the year 1582, she was mourned by the poor as a 

( 5 ) 



Charles was born in the castle of Arona on the Lago 
Maggiore, situated forty miles from Milan, in the year 
1538, on Wednesday, October 2nd, during the ponti- 
ficate of Pope Paul III. The chamber in which his 
birth took place was called '' the chamber of the three 
lakes,'' having a view of the lake in three directions ; 
it was afterwards made an hospital for the sick. The 
jbirth of the saint was heralded by a miraculous appear- 
ance of brilliant light in the heavens, which lasted from 
two o'clock in the morning, the time of his birth, 
until daybreak. This circumstance was confirmed on 
oath by five eye-witnesses in the process of his 

From his early years * Charles gave evidence of a 
great spirit of piety, and of a decided inclination to- 
wards the ecclesiastical state. His great delight was 
to make little altars and sing hymns. At an early age 
his father, perceiving his strong vocation, allowed him 

* St Charlet had but weak health ai a ehUd, and ipent his earl j jean 
at Arona. He learnt Latin at Milan, under J. J. Meria, to whom he 
aftenrardi gaTe the btnefiet of Beiana in Monte Brianxo. —O. 


Lift of St CkarUs Bommeo. 

to receive the toneoie aad to wear the cassock. This 
was entirely in accordance with his natural inclina- 
tions, as he thenceforward strove earnestly to act np 
to the dignity of his holy calling. When his com- 
]>anions, d)eir studies over, hastened to amuse them- 
selves in sdime light and thoughtless way^ Charles 
would retreat to his little oratory, and for recreation 
would give himself up to prayer and convene with 
God. When of an age to be allowed to go out alone, 
he frequently visited the churches of Milan, especially 
the two churches of Our Lady, to whom he had a tender 
devotion. He was remarkable for his recollection, and 
avoided carefully whatever'' might distract his mind 
ever so little from the love of God, so that when feats 
of arms occasionally took place at the castle for the 
amusement of Count Frederic, his elder brother, he 
would always absent himself; and when tennis was 
played in the court of the palace, if he could not go 
away, he would betake himself wherever he thought 
he should be least noticed, so afraid was he of doing 
anything unworthy of the habit he wore. He was 
fond of music and singing as a recreation, but if he 
met with unbecoming words, he omitted them, and 
sang only the notes. Following the example of his 
father. Count Gilbert, Charles went every week to 
Confession and Communion as the medicine and 
nourishment of his soul. 

Blameless as was the life of Charles, he did not 
escape persecution, for, instigated doubtless by the evil 
one, his companions, and even his father's servants, 
used to make game of his devotions and hinder him in 

Early Years. 7 

bis pious practices. But the youth took all their rail- 
ing in good part, and continued his way undisturbed 
by opposition. There were some, however, who knew 
how to appreciate his rare virtue, especially one vener- 
able priest zealous for the furtherance of good discip- 
line, Bonaventura Castiglione,^ rector of the collegiate 
church of St Ambrose. Whenever he saw Charles, 
he always stopped to speak to him, and when asked 
the reason, he replied, " You do not know that young 
man ; he will be a reformer of the Church, and will do 
great things." When Charles was twelve years old his 
uncle, Julius Caesar Borromeo, resigned in his favour 
the abbey of St. Gratinianus and St Felinus in Arona. 
Mindful of the duties of those who enjoy ecclesiastical 
revenues, Charles resolved to spend its income on the 
poor. He, therefore, told his father that he had so re- 
solved, because it was the patrimony of Christ, and as 
such could not be expended in support of the family, 
as he himself was only the steward, owing a strict 
account to God. The good Count quite agreed with 
his son, and allowed him to dispose of the revenues as 
he would. Accordingly he laid them out on the poor, 
with the exception of the .sum required for his personal 
expenses. Occasionally his father would borrow from 
him, but he always kept a strict account of such outlay, 
in order that the poor might not sufiTer. 

1 Bora in MUan in Z487, was mad* apottolie eommiuary of the Holj 
In<|niiition, canon of Santa Maria deUa Scala in xsax, elected Proroet of 
the ehnxch of St. Ambroie in 1546, died in 1555. 

( 8. ) 




When Charles was sbcteen years of age, and had 
completed his humanities, his father sent him to the 
University of Pavia^ to study civil and canon law. 
The morals of young men in such places of learning 
were at that time very corrupt^ but Charles fortified 
himself against the snares of the devil by unwearied 
diligence in his studies. Besides regular attend^ce 
at the public lectures, he went every day to those of 
his tutor, Francis Alciato.^ In a short time he made 
great progress, notwithstanding an impediment in his 
speech, owing to which he was sometimes considered 
devoid of capacity. In this respect he resembled the 
great St. Thomas Aquinas, who, for a like infirmity^ 

1 St. Charlet ipent fire jemn at the UniTerutj of Payia. CharlM 
Francii Bonomo, afterwards Bishop of Yeroelli, and a great friend of the 
saint, was a feUow-stndent. 

* Franeesoo Alciato, bom at Milan, 1532, was created a Cardinal at the 
reoommendation of St. Charles hj Pins lY. in 1560, and died at Borne, 
Z580. He was nephew of Andrea Aleiato, the famous joriseonsolt and 
emblematist, and was himself a man of considerable learning. St. Charles 
afterwards appointed him his deputy as Grand Penitentisry, and he was 
also Vice-Protector of Ireland. 

At the University of Pavta. 9 

was nicknamed by his fellow-students "the dumb 


Charles was distinguished not only for industry, but 
for virtue, which shone forth amidst the corruptions by 
which he was surrounded. He avoided all vain and 
frivolous talking, and fled from the slightest occasion 
of danger to holy purity. Although most kind and 
courteous to all, and much sought after by his fellow- 
students, he avoided particular friendships, as tending 
too often to dissipation of soul. Yet his sweetness of 
manner caused him to be loved by all ; while there 
were not wanting men of discernment who already saw 
in him the promise of future greatness and sanctity. 
About this time Count Gilbert, his father, died, at the 
age of forty-seven, and Charles was called home to take 
charge of the family, an office which fell to him rather 
than to his elder brother, Frederic, on account of a 
prudence beyond his age. Doubtless divine Provi- 
dence intended this to prepare him for the future 
government of a diocese; for the apostle St Paul 
tells us that one of the qualities of a good bishop is 
the prudent government of his own household,^ as he 
who fails in this will not be able to bear a greater 

Charles, after settling affairs at home to the satis- 
faction of all, began to show a zeal and capacity for 
ecclesiastical reform. The Abbey of St Gratinian, at 
Arona, was served at this time by monks of the order 
of St Benedict, who, from their irregular and undis- 
ciplined lives, showed themselves unworthy of their 

^ z Tim. iiL 5. 

lo Lift of St. Charlis Bammuo. 

holy haUt When engaged in faouly affitixs at Anna, 
Charles could not bat hear of the bad example eek bf 
the monks, and lesolved, yoong as he waS| to tiy and 
repair the dishonour done to God, and to bring the 
monks to a sense of their disorders. By impnson- 
ment and judicious punishments, he in a short time 
effected a refoim, and brought them back to better 
observance of their rula 

Whilst Charles was thus occupied with the thingp 
of God, the enemy of souls, from hatred of his viitoes, 
laid a snare to rob him of his chastity which he prised 
above all things. It was an age of licentiousness. Virtue 
in a young and rich man was looked upon with con- 
tempt, and vice was cloaked under the specious name 
of gallantry. Instigated by the devil, a dissolute man 
of some authority in his household, entered into a plot 
by which he hoped to destroy the virtue which was so 
obnoxious in his eyes. Under cover of nighty when 
.•all was quiet, he introduced into the apartments of 
Charles a young woman of abandoned habits. No 
sooner had Charles cast his eyes upon her than he 
instantly fled as from the edge of a precipice, showing 
thus by bis example, that the best means of preserving 
virtue is in immediate flight from occasions of sin. 
He cared nothing for the derision of men, but preferred 
an unstained conscience and the friendship of God to 
the vain judgments of the world. 

Having completed the settlement of his a&irs, 
Charles returned to Pavia, where he gave himself up 
with so much assiduity to his studies, that his health 
began to suffer, and he was compelled to rest for a 

At the University oj Pavia. 1 1 

while. Ordered some relaxation by the doctors, he 
chose music as a source of diversion ; but even in this 
he was careful to mortify his natural tastes through a 
love of self-deniaL He never entirely lost the effects 
of this attack of illness, but was afflicted for the 
remainder of his life with a cough, which the medical 
men affirm to be the effect of his extreme abstemious- 
ness. Hence it became a sort of proverb that 
abstinence was the remedy of Cardinal Charles 

Whilst he was pursuing his studies at Pavia, his 
uncle Cardinal de Medici renounced in his favour the 
Abbey of Eomagnano and the Priory of Calvenzano. 
Charles accepted these charges with the firm intention 
of fulfilling to the utmost all the duties they entailed. 
Thenceforward he entertained the purpose of founding 
a college to enable poor students of good character to 
acquire, not only learning, but also to train them to 
holy living/ and afterwards fully carried out this 

By his twenty-second year he had completed his 
course of study with the degree of doctor in civil 
and canon law. Towards the end of the year 1559 
the Sacred CoUege of Cardinals was in conclave for 
the election of a new Pontiff. An unusually large 
number of professors, students, and others had as- 
sembled to witness the admission of Charles to his 
degrees, when heaven itself seemed to declare approval ; 
for, just as Francis Alciato, the senior lecturer, began 
his formal congratulations, the sky, until then dark 
and cloudy, was suddenly illumined by sunshine. This 

2 Life of St, Charles Borromeo, 

ispicious omen was made use of by the orator, who 
edicted that the future would in like manner be 
umined by him on whose head he was about to 
ace the doctor's cap. With this saying of Alciato 
any agreed, proclaiming that Charles would become 
great man in the Church of God. 

( 13 ) 





On the deatli of Tope Paul IV. the Sacred College of 
Cardinals unanimously elected as Pope, John Angelo 
de Medici, of Milan, the maternal uncle of Charles, 
under the title of Pius IV. This election took place 
on the day after Christmas Day, in the year 1559. 
Great were the rejoicings throughout Milan at the 
elevation of one of its citizens to the dignity of Vicar 
of Christ, and Charles was congratulated on all sides 
as nephew of the new Pontiff. But the soul of a saint 
is indifferent alike to honour and dishonour, neither 
puffed up by prosperity nor cast down by adversity. 
Charles, therefore, preserved his equanimity of spirit 
amid all the compliments he received ; and the only 
particular notice he took of the occasion was to go to 
Holy Communion, together with his brother Frederic, 
making a special intention of uniting their wills with 
the holy will of God. He resolved to remain in 
Milan when his brother and other young noblemen 
went to Home to tender their homage to the new 

14 Lifa of St. Charles Bcrrmiuo. 

Pop& But a soiainoiis to Some soon came tor lum. 
Pius IV., who loved his nephew, and appreciated his 
talents and sanctity, wished to make some nse of him 
in the service of the Church. Charles was immediately 
made Protonotaiy and Beferendaiy, and, on the Isst 
day of January 1 560, Cardinal Deacon of the title of 
SS. Vitus and Modestus, which was after a time 
changed into that of St Martin ; and on the 8th of 
February he was appointed administrator of the See 
of Milan, at the age of twenty-two years and four 
months. It was by a special dispensation of His good 
providence that God raised up for Milan in her state 
of spiritual destitution so powerful a Father and Be- 

The election of so young a prelate serves as a 
warning to men to abstain from judging the acts of 
lawful superiors, especially of the sovereign Pontiff, 
who is guided in an especial manner by the Holy 
Spirit. Viewed according to human wisdom, it might 
have seemed an imprudence on the part of the Holy 
Father thus to raise his nephew to a post of such 
responsibility in a time of unusual laxity. But the 
hand of God was soon visible in the wonderful effects 
which He deigued to work by means of the young 
Cardinal, not only in the diocese of Milan, but through- 
out Christendom; and many are of opinion that in 
exalting the uncle to the pontificate, God had also in 
view the raising up of the nephew for the reform of 
the Church. 

Some have thus interpreted the wonderful sign which 
appeared during the infancy of Pius IV., as written in 

Made a Cardinal Deacon. 1 5 

his life by Platina, and also recorded in the life of 
that Pontiff's brother, Giovanni Giacomo de Medici, by 
Messaglia. There suddenly appeared over the infant 
a brilliant flame that lit a lamp some distance off. 
The flame then disappeared, leaving the lamp still 
burning, which, however, soon itself vanished. The 
flame was understood to be the pontifical dignity to 
which the child was to be raised, who was afterwards 
to kindle the lamp of his nephew, to give light to the 
world as Cardinal and Archbishop. Charles was after- 
wards called " a lamp in Israel " by Gregory XIIL, 
and " a great light of holy Church " by Clement VIII. 
It may truly be said that, like another Aaron, Charles 
was raised up, without expectation on his own part, 
to these honours. 

The holy Father entrusted him with greater respon- 
sibilities, all of which he discharged with credit He 
made him the head of the Consulta, giving him 
authority to sign in his name memorials, and ordinary 
faculties. He also entrusted him with the administra- 
tion of high offices of state, to which many privileges 
were attached, none of which Charles sought for him- 
self ; indeed some honours which his unde offered him 
he refused, and accepted others from obedience alone. 
Many of his relations and friends were displeased at 
this spirit of detachment in Charles, affecting to regard 
it as a want of charity, whilst secretly they were 
annoyed from fear of losing the advantages of his 

In proportion as greatness sought him out, so did 
Charles abase himself the more with deep foundations 

1 6 Lif€ o/SL Charles Bcrrmmw. 

of humility ; while it was from moditatJon and pnjar 
that he drew the wisdom which enabled him to dnot 
80 many works. Wealth, which would ha^e been a 
scarce of danger and relaxation to moet^ was in his 
hands but an instmment for doing good deeds, and an 
incentive to greater watchfulness in workiDg out his 
salvation. Wonderful is Grod in His saints, for thej 
alone know how " sweetly and graciously He orders all 
things " ^ for their sonctification. Charles was wont to 
say when speaking of the divine mer^i that God 
had guided him not by the way of adversity, but by 
that of prosperity, infusing into his soul a divine light 
to know the vanity and worthlessness of earthly things 
80 as not to allow himself to be engrossed by them. 
Using these earthly advantages merely as means to 
advance the glory of God, his mind was ever fixed 
on the true and solid joys which He has prepared in 
heaven for those who love Him. 

He was careful to .testify his gratitude and love for 
his uncle by the most exact fidelity in all the service 
he required of him ; ever keeping his intention purci 
and his heart disengaged from worldly interests. The 
glory of God and the good of souls were the end and 
aim of all his actions; and he prayed earnestly for 
more and more light and grace that one who was 
called to govern others might not himself fall from 
the right way. In all things appertaining to the 
government of the Church, he made a practice of 
asking the advice of holy men of experience, and 
prudently guided himself by their counsel He studied 

1 Wudom TiiL z. 

Made a Cardinal Deacon. 1 7 

political works on the art of goverament, avoiding 
carefully all such as were founded on anti-Christian 
principles, destructive both to rulers and subjects. 
Having long intended to found seminaries and colleges 
for the furtherance of education and religion, he about 
this time made a beginning with a society of learned 
men, both ecclesiastics and seculars, who met at the 
Vatican to confer together on good morals and litera- 
ture. By means of this society and the emulation in 
virtue which it encouraged, Charles hoped to combat 
the spirit of idleness so often found in the atmosphere 
of courts. He also had in view the revival of the 
ancient practice of Prelates and Bishops preaching in 
person to their flocks. It was of great advantage ^ 
to himself, as enabling him to overcome a natural 
defect in his speech, which made it difficult for him to 
preach. Many Bishops and Cardinals, following his 
example, began henceforward the practice of this apos- 
tolic office. 

Charles found the study of the ancient Stoic philo- 
sophers to be useful as a means of sanctification and 
aiding him to subdue his passions. He often spoke 
with especial praise of the " Manual of Epictetus the 
Stoic" which was constantly in his hands. These 
academical meetings were known by the name of 
Notti Vaticane or Vatican Nights, because held in the 

^ St. ChtflM writM to the Cardin&l of Mftntva in 1575, from Bologna, 
aa foUowi :— *' fire or lix Latin •peachei are delivered every day, and I 
endeavour aa I can to aniwer in the lame language, but on unequal eon- 
ditiona, aa I have, on the ipur of the moment, without preparation, to 
anawer an addreii which hai been prepared. I find here how much I 
have been helped by our practice at the Accademia, for what we did there 
by way of recreation is now the occupation of lerious moments.'*— O. 

VOL. L ^ 

1 8 Life of Si. C/iar/es Barrameo. 

evening at the Palace of the Vatican, after tlie 
of the day was over. The academy became edebnited, 
and among its members were many noble and leaned 
men, who became Bishops and Cardinals ; ^ one after- 
wards Pope Gregory XIII. The influence of Charles 
was greatly increased by means of these meetings which 
brought into the light of day, the hidden love of his 
heart for virtue and virtuous men. It was wonderful to 
see this young man in the flower of his age, and in high 
position, giving all his thoughts and affections to good 
works; and depriving himself of rest in order that 
public business should uot suffer. Thus he never lost 
a moment of time ; he gave himself to the study of 
letters, not as some in high positions have done in 
order to cover their neglect of duty with the specious 
excuse of study, but for the purpose of gaining know- 
ledge in order to govern wisely; and to rouse up 
Bishops and Prelates from idle repose for the good of 

Wholly detached fi*om earthly interests, his heart 
fixed on God alone, Charles nevertheless thought it 
right to conform himself externally to the usages of 
the court By so doing he not only avoided singularity, 
but gained good-will, and was consequently able to do 
his work with greater facility. His manner of living 

^ Among these were AlcUto, LodoTico Siinonettft, Cftrlo Viieonti, 
Fr&ncia and CsBsar Gonzaga,'Agostino Valerio, BUhop of Verona, Silvio 
Antoniano for a short time secretary of St. Oharles, Tolomeo Oalli, 
Archhishop of Siponto, who were aU afterwards Cardinals ; Gioranni 
Delfino, Bishop of Torcello, Quido Ferreri, Bishop of Veroelli and 
Cardinal, a ooosin of the Saint, Lodorieo Tarema, Bishop of Lodi, Pier 
Antonio Lonati, Senator of Milan, Paolo Sfrondati, Baron of Valsasina, 
brother of Gregory XIV., &c 

Made a Cardinal Deacon. 1 9 

and household he regulated accordmg to the habits of the 
time, and was seen occasionally at receptions, especially 
those of his brother Cardinals, for whom, as a body, he 
had especial reverence. He was present at the wed- 
ding festivities on the marriage of his brother, Count 
Frederic, with Virginia della Kovere, daughter of 
Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbiuo. 

It was evident, however, that he was not fond of 
such entertainments, and that his only motive was to 
give pleasure to others. The desire of his heart was 
to further good discipline m the Church, and he had a 
lively contempt for earthly grandeur. 

Two virtues shone forth in Charles conspicuously. 
He, in the first place, knew how to accommodate him- 
self to all sorts of persons, high and low, so that in 
truth it may be said of him, as of the Apostle : " I 
became all things to all men/' ^ Next, though sur- 
rounded with occasions of sin, and independent of all 
control, he led a life of spotless integrity, and pre 
served his purity of heart and mind in a perfect degree. 
Witnesses who were living at the time have testified to 
the truth of the following incident. A certain prince, 
a relative, once invited him to his villa situated a few 
miles distant from Some. This gentleman had deter- 
mined to set a snare for the saint in order to tempt him 
to commit sin, and to this end, after a sumptuous repast, 
conducted the Cardinal to his apartments, into which, 
when all had retired for the night, he secretly intro- 
duced a Boman courtesan, famous for her beauty. 
Finding him alone she at once began to practise her 

X Cor. ix. aa. 

20 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

arts in order to draw him into sin. No sooner did the 
Cardinal perceive the wonuin than he ran to the door, 
and loadly called out for those of his household, express- 
ing strongly his anger at the intmsion. They removed 
the woman at his command, asserting that they were 
not to blame for her admission as they knew nothing 
about the afiSedr. Attributing it then to his host, 
Charles, without a word, quitted the house before day- 
break, to mark his indignation at the outrage. Such 
was the code of morality in high places, that a prince 
and his friends had felt no shame in concocting this 

At this time Charles was wholly pre-occupied with 
the cares of state and government. Well aware of his 
responsibilities he considered himself the guardian of 
a free people, not of slaves, and considered the conmion 
good above every other interest: being especially 
solicitous for the poor that they should not be in want, 
he kept the price of bread low. 

The writer, when visiting a town of Eomagna during 
the lifetime of the saint, expressed his joy on seeing 
the arms of Charles sculptured over the palace of the 
Governor. An old man said they had been placed 
there when St. Charles was the Legate of that province, 
during the Pontificate of his uncle, adding: ''Would 
to God that we had him now. He would not allow 
grain to be exported as is done now, while the poor 

Above all things Charles was careful as to the 
administration of justice ; and to this end he sent good 
judges into his provinces. If any of these proved un- 

Made a Cardinal Deacon. 


worthy of their charge, he at once removed them, even 
though interest was made for them by Cardinals, or 
other personages of high degree. These measures were 
carried out with so much gentleness that no one was 
offended. It was so in the case of a certain Governor 
of a city, who had been recommended for the post by 
a relative, who was a Cardinal and an intimate friend 
of Charles. As the people were not satisfied with his 
government the saint removed him, and would not 
give him any other appointment, and in this refusal, 
his relative, the Cardinal, allowed that Charles was 
quite right. 

( 22 ) 



Notwithstanding the hea^y burdens laid upon him, 
Charles never showed reluctance or weariness in the 
service of the Sovereign Pontiff. Of unflinching up- 
rightness in his actions, he was never known to swerve 
in tlie least degree from his course from motives of 
human respect He was particularly careful in choos- 
ing persons to be proposed to the Pope for ecclesiastical 
benefices, especially for the dignity of Cardinal, never 
allowing himself to be swayed in the slightest degree 
by motives of affection. He was so afraid of favouring 
his relations, that he preferred to run the risk of seem- 
ing ungrateful and cold-hearted in their behalf. Con- 
versing one day with one of his own kinsmen, who 
served him faithfully in Some, he said to him, ** I 
recognise your merits, and love you well ; but it would 
be against my conscience to requite you with church 
preferments. If, however, you wish to serve God in 
the ecclesiastical state, I will not fail to give you an 
honourable post." 

Preferments. ^ "^ 


So great was the patience and sweetness of Charles | 
amid various and complicated affairs, that he was . 
never known to utter an ungracious or disdainful / 
word, even to any one of his liousehold. He gave I 
audience to all who came with unwearied kindness. 
No amount of fatigue ever prevented him from attend- 
ing to correspondence, or dictating to others as occa- 
sion required. 

The Sovereign Pontiff, when he saw his marvellous 
aptitude for affairs, offered him tlie post of Grand 
Penitentiary,^ which he accepted, not, it need hardly 
be said, from a love of honours, but in order that he 
might serve God in a post which needed reform. His 
disinclination to preferment was strongly shown by his 
refusal of the office of chamberlain, vacant on the death 
of Cardinal Santa Fiore. 

Charles employed his influence as Grand Penitentiary 
in obtaining the execution of the bull for the reform 
of the office, in which the Pope affirms that he makes 
the revision by the advice of the Grand Penitentiary. 

Nor did his honours end here, for he was chosen 
as Legate of Bologna, Somagna, and the March of 
Ancona, provinces of the Ecclesiastical States. He 
was also made Protector of the Kingdom of Portugal, 
of Belgium, and of the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. 
Under his protection were placed the Orders of St 
Francis, the Carmelites, the Humiliati, the Regular 
Canons of the Holy Cross of Coimbra, the Knights of 
Jerusalem or Malta, and those of the Holy Cross of 
Christ in Portugal, whose Grand Master is the King, 

> One of the Uit acta of Piui IV., who died December xo, 1565. 

24 Life o/^St. Charlis Borrameo. 

all which oflSces Charles was careful to fulfil the 

In the meantime, while thus zealously senriug God 
in these various charges, he was visited with a great 
sorrow, which, at the same time, proved of signal 
benefit to his souL This was the death ^ of his brother. 
Count Frederic. During his last illness Charles never 
left his bedside, but tended him to the end with more 
than the affection of a brother. The death of one who 
was high in fiavour with the H0I7 Father was a great 
affliction to his relatives. On Charles himself it had a 
deeper effect than natural sorrow which finds relief in 
tears. Beflections on death and the instability of 
earthly things filled his mind ; and as if by a light 
from heaven, he saw more clearly than ever the folly 
of seeking anything in this world but the will of God. 
Moved by the Holy Spirit, Charles sent for his con- 
fessor on the very night after the death of his brother, 
and by his counsel determined on henceforward observ- 
ing a greater strictness in the spiritual life. This 
prompt determination was of great service in fortifying 
him for the battle which was to be waged against his 
holy desires. 

By the death of Count Frederic, Charles remained 
sole heir to the hereditary wealth and estates ; and the 
Pope, on the urgent advice of other relatives, now 
suggested to him that he ought to marry as the head 

^ The author does not follow hort the ohroiioIo£fieal ordor of trenti. 
Count Frederic Borromeo died NoTember 20, 1562. St. Oharlee con- 
feued to Mgr. Speciano that the death of hU brother Frederie was a 
warning to him from hearen to bid farewell (to the periahing things of 
the world. 

Ordination. 2 5 

of his family. But Charles was proof against this 
proposal, which might have tempted ordinary young 
men. He was in no danger of giving up his resolu- 
tion of consecrating himself entirely to the service of 
God, for he decided at once to extinguish all the hopes 
of his relatives, and for this purpose he received holy 
orders, and was ordained priest by Cardinal Frederic 
Cesa in the Church of Santa Maria Macrgiore. This 


decisive step was a disappointment to his uncle the 
Pope, and his relatives. To the remonstrances of the 
Holy Father, Charles made this reply : " Do not be 
displeased with me, Holy Father. I am now wedded 
to the spouse whom I have so long desired." He 
now changed his diaconal title of San Martino ai 
Monti for that of Cardinal-Priest of St. Praxedes, in 
consequence of his ordination. 

His ardent wish now fulfilled, he gave himself up 
to greater austerity of life and to fresh efforts to 
adv&nce in the path of perfection. Fearful of being 
his own guide in the way to which God called him, 
he chose for his director in the spiritual life John 
Baptist Ribera, a devout priest of the Society of Jesus. 
This holy man, seeing from the dispositions of his 
penitent, that he was called to great sanctity, gave 
himself up to the direction of this soul as a direct 
charge from God. He made Charles go through the 
Exercises of St. Ignatius as a foundation for the prac- 
tice of solid perfection. He visited him every day 
and conversed long with him upon the spiritual life. 
But the evil spirit, knowing well the harvest that 
God would reap through the sanctity of His servant 

26 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

Charles, endeavoured to blight it in the very begin- 
ning. He instigated the relations and household of 
the Cardinal to make every effort to withdraw Charles 
from his retired life to one more in accordance with 
their idea of what befitted his station in the world. 
Tlxey began to treat Father Ribera with scom and 
ridicule, even going so far as to endeavour to prevent 
his access to the Cardinal. Charles, however, perceived 
their designs, and used himself to admit the Father by 
a private door. 

( 27 ) 





St. Charles, while a stiulent at Pavia, entertained the 
clesiini of sometime foundinix a coUecre in tliat citv for 
the benefit of virtuous youths who, being lovers of 
learning, lacked the means of pursuing their studies. 
Now that he was raised to the dignity of Cardinal, and 
had, moreover, the advantage of being the nephew of 
the Sovereign Pontiff, it was possible for him to carry 
this purpose into execution. His love for souls made 
him look with compassion on the perilous position of 
students who, away from the control of parents at a 
dangerous period of their lives, are exposed to the 
manifold temptations of life. He, therefore, made it 
a primary consideration in the discipline of the new 
college that the students should be trained in good 
morals and in the fear of God, in order to set an ex- 
ample of perseverance in a holy life. 

As Charles conferred with the Holy Father concern- 
ing bis new undertaking, he found him well satisfied 
with bis zeal for education, and was promised the full 
measure of his protection and sympathy. 

28 Life of SL Charles BorrofMo. 

Having thus the highest approval, Charles lost no 
time in having a good design drawn out for the build- 
ings on his own property in Pavia. He prevailed on 
his Holiness to allow certain benefices to be applied to 
the temporal maintenance of the new college, in which 
he intended that students should be boarded and lodged, 
with rules and statutes, and all regulations necessar}* 
for its good government. Through his exertions the 
college, dedicated to St Justina,^ Virgin and Martyr, 
rose rapidly, and from its noble proportions took rank 
at once among the finest buildings of the country. 

^Vlien so far completed as to be habitable, the 
scholastic course was begun with a good number of 
students, who paid a pension, which was expended to 
the completion of the building. Among these students 
was the cousin of St Charles, Count Frederic Borromeo, 
son of Julius Csesar, brother of Gilbert, the father of 
the saint Count Frederic was afterwards Cardinal- 
Archbishop of Milan, and an imitator of the virtues of 
liis cousin. 

To this second Cardinal BoiTomeo ' was left also 
the administration of the college ; and he it was who 
gave it a constitution according to the spirit of its 

These constitutions, according to his intentions, were 
confirmed by a bull of Pope Sixtus V. It was the wish 
of St Charles that this college, like the others which 

1 Daughter of Yitalian, prince of Padiui, foander of the familj of 

^ Bom, 1564; created cardiiial, 1587; Archbiahopof Milan, 1596; died 

Foundation of tfu Borromean College. 29 

were founded by him, should remain under the care of 
the venerable congregation of the Oblates. 

Most amply was the purpose of the saintly Arch- 
bishop fulfilled, for not only were the students noted 
for observance of good discipline at home, but gained 
reputation abroad for virtue and leaniinp;. 

( 30 ) 



1562, 1563. 

:defatigable as was the saint in all matters relating 
the temporal government of the Church, yet he 
)ver grudged any toil in the pastoral care and 
iritual direction of souls. It seems indeed that he 
id been especially raised up in a time of need for 
e reformation of morals, the furtherance of discip- 
le, and the extirpation of heresies in the Church, 
lus we find him now giving counsel to the Holy 
kther, now suggesting to him precautions and remedies, 
cording to the occasion ; at another time strengthen- 
; him in resolutions which he had formed, — in short, 
i^ays engaged in good works. He was mainly in- 
rumental in bringing about the reform described by 
lofrio Panvinio in his life of Pius 17. Among his 
)st important labours was the continuation and con- 
ision of the Council of Trent. In this holy work his 
iidence and zeal for the Catholic faith were more 
in ever conspicuoua The Council of Trent ^ had 
3n begim some years previously, under the pontifi- 

^ Begun 1542, inapended 1555, re-opened 1562, eoncladed 1563. 

The Council of Trent. 3 1 

cate of Paul" III., to put down the heresy of Luther 
and Calvin, which was then insinuating itself through- 
out great part of Christendom. The Council was 
suspended for seven years at the death of Julius III., 
in consequence of various impediments. 

The fatherly heart of Pius IV., grieved at the pro- 
gress the new heresy was making among the children 
of the Church in Germany, England, Hungary, France, 
and parts of Switzerland and Piedmont, acquiesced 
readily in the urgent appeals of his nephew, St. 
Charles, for the convocation and completion of the 

As a preliminary measure, Charles, with the assist- 
ance of many learned prelates, called together the 
Cardinals, together with the ambassadors of various 
princes, and discussed the propriety of re-opening the 
Council The Holy Father, by the advice of Charles, 
ordered a solemn procession, himself going in person 
barefooted from the Church of St Peter in the Vatican 
to the Minerva, accompanied by the Sacred College of 
Cardinals, and by the Dukes of Florence and Urbino, 
his relatives, who had come to Bome to kiss his feet. 
He then dispensed the treasures of holy Church, grant- 
ing a jubilee, and inviting all the faithful to make 
fervent supplication to God for the success of the 
Council. He sent to Trent five Cardinals, legates a 
latere, as presidents of the Council in his name. Firsc 
among them, after the death of Ercole Gonzaga,^ was 

1 Ereolfl Gonxagm of Mantua, Oardinal-Presideiit of the Cooncil of 
Trant, diad there in March 1563. 

Oioranni Morone of Milan, born 1509, made Bishop of Modena bj* 
Clement VIL, Cardinal bj Paul IIL in 1548. President of the Qo^u^^VLtA 

: Life of St. Charles Boi'vonieo. 

iovanni Morone, and vrith him Lodovico Simonettay 
ith natives of Milan. 

There were assembled two hundred and fifty Bishops, 
great number of other prelates and theologians, as 
3II as the ambassadors of the Christian princes, 
lus, by God s grace, the labours of the Council were 
sumed, the seventeenth session being held on the 
ith January 1562. The special superintendence of 
e acts of the Council was entrusted by the Sovereign 
)ntiff to his nephew Charles. To him therefore the 
jates of the Council rendered an exact account of 
I the doubts which arose, and the various decisions 
onounced, all which are recorded in the ** Letters of 
^ Charles." All these weighty mftters were treated 
^ the Cardinal with a congregation of eighteen learned 
en, and with the Holy Father himself; and' the 
icisions of this Papal Commission were then forwarded 

the legates with final instructions. Charles gave 
) everything to attend to this important affair, ever 
ving orders for the admission of messengers from the 
)uncil at any hour of the day or night. 

Great was the strength of soul shown by the saint 
iring this trying time. The devil sowed the seeds 

discord among those assembled at the Council ; there 
ere great diversities of opinion, and there seemed no 
medy to the objections and impediments raised by 

ent by Piua IV. in 1563, was much employed in foreign zniisioni , uid 
>d in 1580. 

Lodorioo Simonettit of Milan, Biihop of Peiaro. died 1563. Tlie other 
.rdinal-PresidenU were — HosiuB, Bishop of Warmia ; D*Altaempt, 
•hop of CoDitance ; and Navager, Bishop of Verona, chosen in the 
&ce of Cardinal Seripando, who died at Trent in 1563. 

The Council of Trent. 33 

some of the Christian princes. The legates even wrote 
several times to Charles that the difficulties which arose 
seemed insuperable. Charles alone never lost hope. 
He consoled and encouraged liis uncle the Pope, assur- 
ing him that God would not fail to conduct to a happy 
issue an affair so vital to the welfare of the faith. 
The labours of the Council continued uninterruptedly 
until the year 1563, when certain evil-disposed per- 
sons again raised the question of the expediency of its 
suspension, of which some princes were desirous. The 
legates gave a full account of these proceedings to 
Charles, in order that his authority might quell the 

The Sovereign Pontiff fell dangerously ill at this 
time. Self-interest might have induced many in the 
position of Charles to have kept this illness secret ; 
but he, detached from all human considerations, 
thought only of the glory of God and the good of the 
universal Church. He sent at once to the legates of 
the Council, ordering them to hasten its conclusion, 
for fear that any accident, such as possibly the death 
of his uncle, might prevent its confirmation, and the 
fruit of all its labours thus be lost The legates, in 
obedience, closed the twenty-fifth session held on two 
consecutive days, the 3d and 4th of December, 1563. 
Some matters still remained to be decided ; but they 
resolved to leave these to the authority of the Sovereign 
PontifT, as we read in the acts of the Council. Thus 
by the Divine blessing was this great undertaking at 
length brought to a conclusion, after having been 

VOL. L c 

J.ije nj St. Ch.trUi Boi 

many times interrupted. It became the instrument 
of reform to the whole Church. Through its meims 
heresies were rooted out, and remedies applied to 
the abuses trhich had crept into Christian disci- 


( 35 ) 




Great was the joy of St. Charles at the happy termi- 
nation of the Council, and he now put forth all his 
energies to secure the execution of its holy decrees as 
a sure means of restoring the Church to the beauty of 
holiness. He studied them with the utmost minute- 
ness, in order that he might have every detail carried 
out, classifying them according to subjects, and placing 
them in his oratory in three divisions. In the first, 
which he called " Sancta Sanctorum," he deposited the 
decrees concerning the Catholic faith and the Holy 
Sacraments ; the second, called '' Sancta,'' contained 
those relating to ecclesiastical reform; in the third 
were deposited those concerning the laity. In the 
first consistory held after the return of the Apostolic 
Legates from Trent, Charles proposed that a congrega- 
tion of eight Cardinals should be formed for the pur- 
pose of deciding upon controversies that might arise 
in the interpretation of the decrees. This commission 

Life of Si. Charles Dorrofueo, 

\ appointed bj Pius lY. moh* proprio on the 5tli 
^st, 1564. 

I!harles also obtained from the H0I7 Father various 
visions and constitutions concerning the residence 
Bishops and Prelates, the profession of faith, and 

time fixed for the execution of the decrees. 

presided over the compilation of the Bomau 
echism, and a reformed edition of the Boman 
iviary and Missal, with the assistance of many 
ologians who were at Trent Among these was 
her Francesco Foreiro, a Portuguese Dominicnu 
uk of great learning and piety, who was much be- 
2d by the King of Portugal and his uncle. Cardinal 
Qry, to whom St. Charles made many apologies for 
Eiiniiig the Father for the publication of the Cate- 
im. On sending him back, Charles wrote to the 
ig and the Cardinal in the following terms : — '* By 

diligence and industry, we have almost finished 

Catechism, an excellent work, comprising nearly 
the precepts of a devout and holy life." And re- 
ing to the Cardinal Hosius, Bishop of Warmia, one 
:he legates of the Council, on the 27th December, 
54, Charles wrote : — " We have now, by the assist- 
e of learned men, finished the Catechism. In a short 
e we shall issue a new Missal and Breviary, which 
I satisfy, as we hope, the expectations of Catholics." 
Chese were not the only fruits of the industry of 
Charles. He also revised and corrected some works 
he Fathers, the texts of which had been corrupted 
heretics, with the aid of Achilles Statius, a Portu- 
3e, whom he kept in Rome after the Council for 

Dom Bartholomew. 37 

this purpose, as we see from the same letters to the 
King of Portugal. 

Having had the management of the affairs of the 
Council, St. Charles considered that he was therefore 
bound to set the example of obedience to its decrees, 
and of zeal in their execution. Set up like a city on 
a lull in his position as nephew and coadjutor of 
the Sovereign Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ and uni- 
versal Pastor of souls, his steps would, he knew, be 
followed by the prelates of Holy Church and by all 
Christian people, since there is nothing that furthers 
obedience so much as the example set by those in 
authority. But in his humility St. Charles began with 
liimself and the reformation of his own life, since the 
decrees of the holy Council spurred him on with fresh 
fervour in the path of sanctity in which he was 
hastening. He gave up the innocent recreations 
which he had hitherto allowed himself; and with a 
cheerful countenance increased his austerities. He 
gave himself to prayer at least twice a day. He 
chastised his body with frequent disciplines and fast- 
ings. He frequently visited the churches, especially 
Santa Maria Maggiore, to which he went privately at 
nightfall, accompanied by some intimate friends, as- 
cending the hill on his knees from the spot where 
stands the Church of St Pudentiana.-^is almsgiving 
was abundant, both in Home and Milan, and in the 
latter city he assisted not only the poor, but sent 
magnificent presents for the adornment of churches. 
It is estimated that he could not have spent upon 
himself any part of the income he received from bene- 

38 Lif€ of St. Charles Borrotmo. 

fices in Borne. In his dothing he put aside all pomp, 
and gave up wearing robes of silk, putting on a simpio 
ecclesiastical garb. 

After banning with himself, the saint then directed 
his attention to the reform of his household Judging 
that it did not become a prelate to have a court chiefly 
composed of laymen, he dismissed all the knights iuid 
gentlemen who were in his suite with liberal bountiesi 
each according to his merit; retaining in his service 
ecclesiastics only, and the needful domestics, and gave 
them rules, forbidding the use of silken garments, and 
all things unbecoming tlieir condition, so that they 
lived in this way a more ecclesiastical way of life. 

For his own part, having given his heart to God, 
prayer and contemplation were the greatest delight of 
his soul. In order to give himself with greater facility 
to these holy exercises, he was in the habit, at certain 
times, of retiring to a Uttle oratory he had built on a 
hill, and adorned with representations of the sacred 
Mysteries of the Life of our Lord. Here he used to 
be filled with the sweetness of the divine communica- 
tions, and received inward illumination as to his con- 
duct and manner of life. 

Being more and more drawn to meditation and 
prayer, Charles formed the design of giving up alto- 
gether the distraction of external affairs. But fearful 
of guiding himself in a matter of such importance he 
sought counsel of Dom Bartholomew de Martyribus,^ 
Archbishop of Braga, whom, in the end of the year 

^ Born in LUbon in 15 14, rnised in 1558 to the Se« of Braga, which ho 
rongnod iu 158a, and died in 1590. 

Dam Bartholomew. 39 

1563, the providence of God led to Borne, after the 
close of the labours of the Council This prelate 
was a Portuguese by birth, and received his surname 
from the church in which he was baptized He early 
entered the Dominican order, where he was dis- 
tincniished for learning; as well as for merit. He was 
united by a close friendship with a congenial spirit, 
another very holy man — for eminent sanctity abounded 
in the Peninsula in those days — a Spanish Dominican, 
Lewis of Grenada,^ who was confessor to the queen- 
regent of Portugal. The latter offered to her director 
the vacant archbishopric of Braga. Where mere 
natural friendship perceives only matter for congratu- 
lation, spiritual friendship, on the other hand, sees no- 
thing but cause for alarm. No sooner, had the news 
reached Bartholomew, than he wrote to his brother 
Dominican, and represented to him the danger in 
which his soul would be placed by his exaltation to 
this dignity. The humble religious probably needed 
not the advice ; he declined the proffered see, but he 
repaid the kindness of his friend by a service for which, 
he might presume, the lowly monk would feel but 
scant amount of gratitude. Being requested by the 
regent to name some one whom he considered as most 
worthy of so high and responsible an office, he 
immediately recommended Dom Bartholomew of the 
Martyrs as a man eminently qualified by his signal 
merits to do good service to the Church. Doubtless 

^ Born in 1504 at Oranftda, died 1588. Author of the ** Sinner'i Oaide,** 
the *' Stimolas of Paaton,** and many other ■piritoal work*. Uii worka 
were preferred bj St Charlea to aU othera of the kind. 

40 Life of St. Charles Borrow eo. 

Lewis of Grenada thought so higlily of his friend as to 
believe that he might accept with safety to his soul 
what he himself had modestly shrunk from undertak- 
ing. Dom Bartholomew would readily have dispensed 
with the compliment ; indeed, so terrible to him was 
the news of his promotion, that the very thought of 
the heavy burden with which he was threatened, pro- 
duced a sudden tremor in all his limbs, and was the 
occasion, subsequently, of a serious illness. He re- 
fused the perilous charge, and Lewis, after vainly 
employing every argument to overcome his reluctance, 
availed himself at last of his authority, as provincial of 
the order, to enforce his acceptance of the office, in 
virtue of holy obedience. 

Bartholomew justified the high opinion entertained 
of him, both by his conduct as Bishop in his own 
diocese, and by the zeal and theological learning which 
he displayed at the Council of Trent, where he was 
one of those who insisted most strongly on the necessity 
of enforcing episcopal residence. He was used to 
recall an example which had deeply touched him, of a 
young shepherd whom he once remarked, in the midst 
of a violent storm, refusing to shelter himself in a 
neighbouring cavern, lest the wolf should profit by his 
absence to attack his flock. " What a lesson," ex- 
claimed Bartholomew, " for the pastors of souls ! " He 
was a man, in short, of a like spirit with Charles 
Borromeo. Like him, too, feeling the awful responsi- 
bility of the episcopate, he desired to be released from 
the perilous burden, and retire once more to the safe 
obscurity of his monastery ; indeed, the hope of obtain- 

Dovt Bartholomew. 41 

ing the Pope's permission to resign bis archbishopric 
was one of the motives which led his steps to Borne. 
He failed in obtaining the object of his wishes at that 
time ; God had a work for him to do — the reform of 
his diocese in accordance with the decrees of Trent ; 
but if his journey was unattended with the success 
he desired, it was not unproductive of one important 

The Cardinal and the Archbishop were mutually 
known to each other through the share each had taken 
in the affairs of the Council, but they had never 
personally met until the day when the Pope admitted 
Dom Bartholomew to an audience at the Vatican ; 
where, after complimenting him on the zeal with which 
he had laboured for the restoration of the Church's dis- 
cipline, and the reform of Cardinals and Bishops, the 
Holy Father turned to his nephew, and taking him by 
the hand presented him to the prelate, with these 
words, " I desire these things as ardently as yourself, 
and here is a young man whom I place in your hands, 
that you may commence the reformation of Cardinals 
in his person." 

" If," replied the Archbishop, " the princes of the 
Church had all resembled the Cardinal Borromeo, so 
far from proposing their reformation to the Council, I 
should have proposed themselves as models for the 
reform of the other ministers of Jesus Christ" He 
added no more, perceiving how painful to the 
modesty of Charles was the language of praise; but 
it was no empty compliment on his part; words of 
flattery were indeed strangers to his lips. He warmly 

42 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

esteemed and deeply respected one whom Grod had 
inspired with the same pure zeal for His honour 
which burnt so brightly in his own bosom, and not 
less profound was the afifectionate reverence with 
which Charles on his side regarded the champion of 
episcopal reform. They were friends at once from that 
truest and deepest of sympathies, the love of Grod. 
Charles sought an early opportunity of a private inter- 
view with Dom Bartholomew, for the purpose of dis- 
covering to him the whole state of his heart, with the 
scruples and difficulties which agitated him, and throw- 
ing himself completely upon his guidance in a manner 
in which above all things he dreaded to follow his own 
wilL " We are alone here," he said, " in the presence 
of God. Deny me not my request. Long have I 
besought Him with many prayers and tears to en- 
lighten me as to the course I ought to pursue. I know 
that He vouchsafes a special illumination to such as 
have given themselves wholly to Him, and in whom 
He abides as in His temples, whence also He returns 
an answer to those that inquire of Him. You see how 
I am situated. You know what life is at court and in 
this city of Eorae. I am surrounded by innumerable 
perils ; young, without experience, without other virtue 
than the love and desire of it. is it not my duty to fly 
from temptations which might one day overcome me ? 
As nephew of the Sovereign Pontiff, all men magnify 
the pretended services which I render to the Church, 
but is this what God requires of me ? What will it 
avail me to gain the whole world if I lose my own 
soul ? God has lately given me a new attraction for 

Dom Bartliolomew. 43 

penance; He has given me the grace to prefer His 
fear and my own salvation to all things. I am think- 
ix^ therefore, of emancipating myself from all these 
ties, and retiring into a monastery, to live as if there 
were only God and myself in the world." 

Here we have the clue to that love of retirement 
and disengagement from secular duties which in the 
eyes of the worldly is so incomprehensible and so 
worthy of censure. The saint, though full of the most 
ardent charity for his neighbour, is no mere philan- 
thropist His main object is not to make himself 
useful ; his supreme end is God — to know Him, to love 
Him, to serve Him. Next to this, or rather included 
in this, is his love for the souls which God has made 
for Himself ; and as first of all, and chiefly, God has 
committed to him the care of his own soul, that must 
be the great, the absorbing object of his care. One 
soul — one eternity ; these words are for ever ringing in 
his ears. The love of his neighbour cannot, therefore, 
be separated from his love of God, still less set in the 
balance against it The benevolence which allows a 
man to be careless of losing God, or even of one degree 
of His grace, is not charity, but a mere natural feeling 
such as works in the bosom of the busy men of this 
generation, and is compatible with the absence of all 
personal holiness, and of all respect for the first and 
greatest of commandments. 

The Archbishop was filled with admiration at words 
so full of humility and of contempt of the world, and 
when Charles had ceased speaking, he remained silent 
awhile; he was engaged in beseeching the spirit of 

44 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

God to dictate his answer. "I cannot^* be said at 
last^ ^ do otherwise tlian applaud so pious a desire^ and I 
know also by experience the advantages and the seen- 
rity of life in the cloister. But the question is not 
which is the safest way, but what is that way which the ; 
will of Ood designs you to follow ? and it appears to 
me, judging by His conduct of you hitherto, and the 
graces He has been pleased to bestow upon yon, that it 
is not His will that you should seek the retirement of a 
monastery. In leaving the world and entering religion, 
I forsook no duty ; but with you it would be otherwise. 
You cannot desert, without detriment to the Church's 
interests, the eminent and difficult post to which it has 
pleased the Sovereign Pontiff to raise you. If, indeed, 
you loved the world and the world's possessions, if you 
felt the least attachment or drawing of your heart to- 
wards its honours or its pleasures, then would I say 
at once, Fly. Undoubtedly we must not risk our own 
souls to save those of others ; but since God has given 
you the grace to be insensible to the vanities of the 
world, since it seems His will to make use of you for 
the reformation of His Church, I content myself with 
praising God while I praise his gifts in you; and I 
entreat you also to give Him thanks and to humble 
yourself before Him, for having deigned to employ you 
and to fit you for so great a work. Abandon not the 
station to which He has called you, but accomplish 
that which you have so happily begun." 

Charles had listened with profound attention; and 
full of confidence in the spiritual discernment of the 
prelate whose advice he had sought, he promised that 

Dom Bartholomew, 45 

he would renounce his design of following the inclina- 
tions of his heart, which prompted him to retire from 
the world ; but one weighty doubt still oppressed him. 
He could not forget that he was an Archbishop, bound 
by the stringent duty of residence ; that he belonged 
not to himself, but to the flock committed to his care. 
" Many a time," he said, " have I implored the Pope 
to grant me this favour, but he has hitherto always 
opposed my departure," 

Dom Bartholomew was not the man to combat so 
just a desire, or to undervalue the duty of a bishop to 
reside in his diocese ; but he represented to Charles the 
danger of precipitation, the advanced nge of the Pontiff, 
and his need at that critical juncture of devoted assist- 
ance and support The urgent necessities of the Church 
at large were to be considered before those of a parti- 
cular diocese ; he advised him, therefore, to adjourn for 
a time his praiseworthy intention, and to watch for a 
more favourable opportunity, which God, perhaps, might 
afford him sooner than he expected. Charles, relieved 
of all his doubts, threw himself into the arms of the 
Archbishop of Braga ; his path was now clear before 
him, and most warmly did he thank his venerable 
friend for the counsel he had given hira, assuring him 
that he believed it was a divine and special Providence 
which had conducted to Borne so wise and holy a 
counsellor, for the purpose of delivering him from the 
weight that had oppressed hina. Great, however, was 
the surprise of our Cardinal at being informed soon 
after by the Pope that Dom Bartholomew had sought 
a private interview with him to beg permission to 

46 Lifi of St. Charles Sorram^o* 

retire from his arohbiahopric ; and never, he idd, had 
an ambitions man more eagerly niged his suit for pro* 
motion than the Archbishop had pressed his petition 
for leave to resign his high dignity — a request^ how« 
ever, to which his Holiness had not seen fit to accede. 
Imly it seemed as if the worthy prelate was paying off 
npon our saint the treatment he had himself received 
at the hands of his friend Lewis of Grenada. Charles 
concealed his emotion, and praised the Archbishop's 
humility, but he seized an early opportunity to ex- 
postulate with him on the apparent inconsistency of 
his conduct 

" What ! " he exclaimed, " you conjure the Pope to 
relieve you from the distractions of business, and at the 
same time you would precipitate me into the midst of 
them ? You think you cannot conscientiously retain 
the charge of a diocese, and you counsel me to assume 
the burden of one ; you, advanced in age and possessing 
experience and capacity; I, a young man devoid of both ! 
Where is your esteem for the gospel rule, to love your 
neighbour as yourself ? Where is the tenderness of a 
father, the affection of a brother, the sincerity of a 
friend ? " 

The Archbishop listened to him with a smile of sweet 
complacency, for he knew from how pure a source these 
reproaches flowed, and then mildly and earnestly re- 
presented to him that God's conduct of one man often 
differs widely from that by which he guides another. 
He assured him that his friend's soul was as precious 
in his eyes as his own, and he reminded him that the 
reasons by which he had supported the advice he gave, 

Dom Bartholomew, 47 

were drawn from the peculiarities of Charles's position, 
and the special mariner in which God seemed to have 
dealt and to be dealing with him. With these and 
such- like words he silenced the Cardinals remon- 
strances, and effectually removed his scruples ; hence- 
forward the two friends were inseparable. Short and 
precious to Charles were those few weeks of Dom 
Bartholomew's stay at Eome, when, as a humble dis- 
ciple, he sat at the Archbishop's feet, seeking from his 
lips instruction in that which lay nearest to his heart, 
how to govern a diocese, and discharge the duties of a 
prelate ; and when they parted, he received from his 
friend, at once as a token of regard and a memorial of 
their religious conferences, a uiuch-valued gift, a treatise 
written with his own hand, entitled " The Stimulus of 
Pastors." This book became Charles's guide, when, to 
his deep regret; the living voice of the teacher could 
sound in his ears no more. 

Thus he sought the company of those only who 
were lovers of holiness and virtue. With such he 
would often take counsel, in order to attain as far as 
possible to the perfection of the ecclesiastical state. 
Among these holy men were some Spanish priests, 
and others who had lately come from the Council of 

The time had now arrived when St Charles deemed 
it expedient to prepare himself more thoroughly for 
the office of a pastor. His high standard of the obli- 
gations of a pastor of souls, made him place among 
the chief of these the duty of preaching the Word of 
God to the flock, as inculcated by the Council of 

48 Life of SL Charles Borromeo. 

Trent Besides the academical discourses of which we 
have spoken, he began to exercise himself in public 
speaking. He commenced bj giving spiritual con- 
ferences to some convents of nuns, and in the Church 
of Santa Maria Maggiore, of which he was archpriest 
People listened to tliem with astonishment, as it was 
not at that time customary for Cardinals to preach. 
Moreover, well aware how necessary to the episcopal 
office is the knowledge of doctrine not only to oppose 
the false teaching of heretics, and to defend the flock 
against them, but also to instruct them in the way of 
their eternal salvation, St. Cliarles applied himself, 
with the aid of professors,^ to the study of theolog)', 
commencing with logic and philosophy. It was won- 
derful to see him, overwhelmed as he was with so 
many responsibilities, sitting like a humble student at 
the feet of theologians, patiently learning from them, 
and committing their lectures to writing. But what 
cannot charity, and the desire of serving God perfectly, 
do in a heart all on fire with His love ? St. Charles 
afterwards put these academical exercises into a more 
spiritual form, which he found useful as a pastor of 

The progress of St. Charles in the holy life he had 

laid down for himself was a source of edification to 

the court ; and he was looked upon with awe by its 

^ members, who began to shun license and giving bad 

^example, lest it should come to his knowledge. AU 

those who were aiming at perfection were, on the 

1 One of these wai Jerome Vielmi. O.P.. Bishop of Argolis, one of the 
iheologmni of the Cuuncil of Trent. <• 

Dom Bartholomew. 49 

other hand, fortified by his example of sanctity. The 
Holy Father was especially pleased with his conduct, 
and his authority was greatly increased thereby. True 
it is that certain malicious men of the world, insti- 
gated by the devil, took exception at his spiritual 
life, calling him a hypocrite and impostor; but he, 
strong with the strength of God, opposed an unfailing 
constancy of soul to all that they had to say against 
him, so that their persecution did but add to his 
merits. Stimulated by the example of St. Charles, 
many members of the Academia took up sacred studies, 
in order to imitate him in learning, as well as in a 
holy life. 

It pleased God about this time to try the patience 
of His servant by visiting him with a grievous infir- 
mity, which was accompanied, however, with such 
heavenly consolations and interior illuminations, that, 
inflamed with divine love, Charles longed to quit this 
mortal life, in order that he might be united for ever 
to his Lord. 

Charles had great devotion for the churches of 
Bome. He not only visited them frequently, but 
restored and adorned some of them at his own ex- 
pense. At St Martin on the Hills, his titular church 
as Cardinal Deacon, he rebuilt the dome. On the 
Church of St Praxedes, his titular as Cardinal Priest, 
he spent large sums in repairs, as abo upon the mon- 
astery adjoining. From being scarcely habitable, he 
made it such as it now is, and placed the sacred relics 
in a chapel worthy of them. At Santa Maria Maggiore, 
where he was Archpriest, he repaired the choir and 

VOL. I. \> 

50 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

porch, and added to the number of canons. He spent 
a large sum in the erection of the Church of St 
Martha, attached to a convent of nuns, whose Protector 
he was. He induced the Sovereign Pontiff to build a 
church in the Baths of Diocletian, with a Carthusian 
monastery, under the title of St. Mary of the Angels. 
Other Cardinals followed his example, and from that 
time begun to restore and adorn their titular churches. 
The prudence of St Charles in all his undertakings 
gained for him esteem and love not only in Home, 
but abroad. The Catholic princes especially cherished 
a great affection for him. Philip II. of Spain not 
only gave him a pension of nine thousand crowns 
from the Archbishopric of Toledo, but conferred upon 
him the Principality of Oria on the death of his 
brother. Count Frederic. 

,( 51 ) 



Whilst occupied in Eome with weighty affairs, St. 
Charles iiever for a moment forgot his diocese. He 
knew well how detrimental to the flock is the absence 
of its pastor, and he was most solicitous about the 
welfare not only of the city and diocese, but of that 
of the whole province, and kept himself diligently in- 
formed of all its needs. Often he begged of the Holy 
Father to allow him to take up his residence in his 
diocese. But it was in vain. The Pope could not 
accede to his request, for the presence of St Charles 
in Eome was essential not only for the good of the 
Papal States, but for the welfare of the ChurcL He, 
therefore, dispensed St. Charles from the obligation of 
residence as ordained by the Council of Trent, and the 
saint in obedience contented himself with watching over 
his diocese at a distance, whilst he placed himself at 
the disposal of the Holy Father in Some, resigning, 
however, his offices of government in order to be better 
able to attend to spiritual afiairs. 

TTig^ Yicar-General in Milan kept him diligently 
informed of all that took place there, and St. Charles 

Life of St, Charles Borromeo. 

time to time sent him his directions: a large 
ition of which are extant, and testify to his 
bude for his Church. 

aides a Vicar-General, St Charles sent Bishop 
amo Ferragata to Milan, as his Auxiliary, giv- 
him full powers to carry out whatever he 
b judge expedient for its welfare. This proved 
jat benefit to both clergy and people, for the 
itry of Monsignor Ferragata brought to light 
• things that needed reform. A great number of 
Q-up persons were confirmed by him, and it was 
1 that the knowledge of the Sacrament of Con- 
tion had almost died out among the people. 
3 facts led St. Charles to resolve on adopting yet 

efiTectual means of improvement; and he dis- 
id the matter with some of his usual advisers, in 
cular with Gabriel Paleotto, Auditor of the Rota, 
Agostino Valerio. The first named of those two 
ites had been especially sent to expedite the affairs 
e Council of Trent by Pope Pius IV. 
be decrees of the Council of Trent having now 

published, St. Charles, though absent from his 
resolved that he would begin his projected reforms 
iolding the diocesan synod, commanded by the 
icil to be held annually. St. Charles therefore 
ht anxiously for a Vicar- General who could take 
place and carry out his designs. A learned man 
proposed to him in the person of Nicol6 Ormaneto, 
h priest in the diocese of Verona, who in time 

had been Vicar-General to Giovanni Matteo 
rto, Bishop of Verona. This Bishop had assisted 

Administration of tJie Diocese of Milan. 53 

Cardinal Eeginald Pole when sent as legate dc latere 
by Julius III, in 1 5 5 3, to bless the reconciled kingdom 
of England, and Kicold Ormaneto had laboured with 
him, and had especially devoted himself to raising the 
tone of theological studies in England. He had also 
been present at the Council of Trent Subsequently he 
fled from worldly honours to the humble privacy of a 
parish priest, whence he was drawn forth once more to 
serve God with the permission of Cardinal Navagero, 
then Bishop of Verona, by St Charles, who received 
him in Eome with great cordiality and discussed with 
him his projects of reform. Directions for carrying 
out the decrees of the Couucil of Trent for the erec- 
tion of a seminary were drawn up. Many days were 
taken up with these conferences, and much sur- 
prise prevailed at Eome that the Cardinal, with so 
many weighty matters on hand, should devote so much 
time to a humble and unknown priest 

When St. Charles had sufiSciently explained his 
intentions to Ormaneto, the latter proceeded to Milan 
invested with full authority as Vicar-GeneraL Before 
this, St Charles had some time previously sent thither 
Father Benedetto Falmio, a Jesuit father and preacher 
of repute, who was accompanied by others of the 
Society, in order to give missions to the people. As 
St. Charles had intended to introduce the Society into 
Milan, he obtained two Pontifical briefs for them ; one 
to the Duke of Sessa, the governor, and the other to 
the Senate, in which the Pope exhorted them to pro- 
vide a convenient house where the Fathers might 
dwell and exercise their functions. It was then that 

54 Life of St. Charles BarrmfuoJ 

the Chnrch of St Vitus, near the Tidno gate^ mui 
assigned to them, together with a house taken on lease. 
Onnaneto reached Milan in July, 1 564, and on bq;in- 
ning the work of refonn was enoouzaged hj finding 
much goodwill among the people in the midst of dis- 
orders and corruption, both of priests and people. 

The Catholic King had given orders to the governors 
of his provinces to further by all means in their power 
the due observation of the decrees of the Council, and 
to this end to give every possible assistance to the 
Bishops in the exercise of their functions. The governor 
and senate of Milan were therefore of great assistance 
to OrmanetOy who wrote to the Cardinal telling him of 
the hopeful state of affairs, and likewise informing 
him of the publication of an edict, in which the gover- 
nor had abstained from interference with ecclesiastics 
or the authority of their superiors. 

On his arrival in Milan, Onnaneto had summoned the 
priests of the diocese, to the number of two thousand, 
to a diocesan synod, at which the decrees of Trent 
were published, and all made their profession of faith 
before the Vicar-General, who wished to have a personal 
knowledge thus of each one present. Various other 
matters were arranged for the execution of the decrees 
of Trent. On this occasion, Father Benedetto Palmio 
preached a sermon, followed by a discourse from the 
Vicar-General on the reform. These two sermons pro- 
duced much fruit, and indeed this synod was altogether 
an auspicious beginning of a better state of discipline, for 
which the heart of St Charles yearned. 

The churches were the next care of the Vicar; he 

Administration of the Diocese of Milan. 55 

visited all those of the city, and a great niunber in 
other parts of the diocese, eradicating abuses, and set- 
ting all things in order. He then turned his attention 
to the foundation of a seminary for clerics, and as a 
beginning brought together several young men, whom 
St. Charles maintained in a hired house, pending the 
erection of a suitable building. Nicold Ormaneto also 
introduced a reform into several convents of nuns, and 
in all that he did he had all possible assistance from 
St Charles, who, notwithstanding his weighty cares, 
found time to advise him continually by letters. 

( 56 ) 




KOTWITHSTANDING the efforts of Nicolo Ormaneto to 
carry out both in letter and in spirit the wishes of 
St. Charles for reform, the difficulties that arose daily 
in his path made him lose heart, and he wrote to beg 
the Cardinal to allow him to return to his parish; 
alleging his incompetency for the great undertaking 
in Milan, and adding, moreover, that it seemed to him 
impossible that a Church could be well governed in 
the absence of its own Bishop. On hearing this, St. 
Charles yearned more than ever to go to his flock, 
and again besought the Holy Father to allow him to 
do so, determining, in case of a refusal, to summon at 
least a Provincial Council at Milan, with the senior 
suffragan Bishop as President. Meanwhile, he wrote 
encouragingly to Ormaneto, desiring him to persevere 
until some decision was made. 

His earnest entreaties prevailed so far with the Holy 
Father, that he gave him permission to hold the Council 
in person in Milan, to Ins great satisfaction. Before 
his departure, the Pope created him legate ae latere 

Leaves Rome for Milan. 5 7 

throughout Italy in order to facilitate matters w'ith 
regard to his precedence over other Cardinals. The 
saint with great care selected theologians to accom- 
pany him to the Council, and had long deliberations 
with them on the various matters to be brought before 
it, the manner of celebrating it, the summoning of the 
Bishops, and the framework of the constitutions. He 
also gathered round him on this occasion many eminent 
canonists and members of religious orders, among whom 
were Scipio Lancellotto,^ John Baptist Castello,^ and 
Michael Tomaso,' all three distinguished for their ability 
at the Council of Trent. The Cardinal also made choice 
of the best theologians among his household, of whose 
assistance he availed himself. Among these were three 
eminent men of letters ; Silvio Antoniano, afterwards 
Cardinal, John Baptist Amalteo, and Giulio Foggiano. 
St Charles had already written fully to Monsignor 
Ormaneto, entering into every detail of his journey, as 
he was anxious to set a good example to Bishops 
in every town through which he should pass. His 
rooms he desired to be furnished with the utmost sim- 
plicity, and that two or three only should be reserved 
for his own use ; that all pomp should be avoided, and 
earthenware used instead of gold or silver vessels ; and 
that his table should be frugal, with but a few dishes. 
He also ordered the Bishops to be lodged in his palace 
at his own expense. This was not only from motives 
of hospitality as part of the duty of a Bishop, but also 

^ Aaditor of the EoU, and Cardinal, died 1598. 

' Ai terwardi Biihop of RiminL 

* Afterwards Biibop of Lerida, in Spain. 

58 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

for greater convenience in treating with them upon 
synodal matters.* 

' Having concluded all these preparations, and re- 
ceived the blessing of the Sovereign Pontiff, St 
Charles set out on the ist September, 1565, accom- 
panied by many Prelates and dignitaries. Great was 
the grief in Borne at his departure ^f or what was feared 
would prove to be a long season. 

St. Charles travelled quickly, longing to find himself 
once more in Milan; but yet he made time to visit 
churches and to venerate sacred relics on his way. 

1 On the i8th August, 1565, St. Charles writes to Ormaneto an fol- 
lows :— '*Let the Bishops know that I am coming to give notice of the 
Council. If any of the authorities of the city interfere because of rumours 
of plague in Switzerland and in Casale, you have a reason to give, as other- 
wise the Bishops might be prevented coming from these parts. As I shall 
be in Milan by the end of September in order that no time may be lost, the 
Provincial Council being fixed for the 19th October, the diocesan synod 
might in the meantime be held, for it is a year since the last, and I should 
be glad to see my clergy face to face. I have determined to invite all the 
Bishops to stay under my roof, for it is not fitting that they should go 
elsewhere, and it is my duty to be liberal since God has given me so 
much. I wish their apartments to be near each other, and that all should 
take their meals in common, as such familiar intercourse promotes friend- 
ship, and is convenient for taking counsel together. Let the ten Bishops 
be near each other, their apartments properly furnished and nothing 
wanting, their rooms provided with hangings, chairs, and beds. I shall 
bring nothing with me, but some silver vessels, linen, and five hundred 
earthenware plates. My household numbers a hundred. I am very 
anxious that there should be nothing extravagant, and that all pomp and 
show should be avoided. I shall receive the Prelates with all charity, 
but let them not expect anything sumptuous or splendid. Let their 
table be sufficiently but frugally provided, with nothing of silver except- 
ing a water-jug and basin, the plates and dishes of ordinary ware. Keep 
for me two or three rooms with common carpets, without appearance 
of luxury, reserving for guests everything more commodious. I wish each 
Bishop to learn that hospitality of this kind only is allowable, as eccle- 
siastics have been especially noted for lavish expense and luxury, and I 
desire in this way to begin a method of life which I shall follow without 
fiiil from henceforth as Pishop."— O. 

Leaves Rome for Milan. 


He remained three days at Bologna in his capacity of 
legate, to set in order certain matters of government. 
He also visited his abbey of Nonantola, and at a synod 
of its canons laid down rules for the reform of certain 

All intent upon the things of God, St. Charles 
noted more especially in every city the influence of the 
Bishops, and the good or evil which resulted from their 
residence or non-residence in their sees ; drawing there- 
from motives for his own action, and facts to be laid 
before the Sovereign Pontiff. Throughout the whole 
of his journey ho was received with great honour, both 
by princes and by private persons, all of whom were 
drawa to Iiiui by the good odour of his virtues. 

( 60 ) 




AT was the J07 of the Milanese when it became 
wn that their pastor was coming to them. The 
Bts were decorated, and triumphal arches, adorned 
I mottoes and symbols, attested their veneration 
him. His entry took place on Sunday, the 23rd 
September, 1565, when he was in his twenty- 
li year. Having put on the pontifical vestments 
;he church of St. Eustorgius, he made a progress 
lugh the city, moimted on horseback, under a rich 
)py, accompanied by the clergy, the Duke d'Albu- 
rque, governor of Milan, the senate, magistrates, 
nobility, and an immense concourse of people, 
ly countenance was radiant with joy, shouts of 
[ness were heard on all sides, and there were not 
.ting those who prophesied the future gloiy of their 
hbishop, proclaiming that it was sufficient to look 
n his holy face to be assured that in him they be- 
I a second St. Ambrose, who in like maimer would 
aised to the honours of the altar — prophetic words 

His Entry into Milan. 6 1 

which have in our day been verified It was noted 
as a marvellous fact that evil spirits were, during this 
procession, compelled to bear witness to the torment 
that the presence of the saint caused them, for there 
were some among the crowd who, possessed of the 
devil, howled and cried aloud in desperation and anger, 
like wild beasts. 

Having reached the cathedral, St Charles prostrated 
himself in devout prayer before the Blessed Sacrament ; 
and having given his benediction to the assembled 
multitude, retired to the Archbishop's house. On the 
following Sunday he sung High Mass in presence of a 
vast congregation, and addressed them from the text : 
" With desire I have desired to eat this passover with 
you." * In moving words he spoke of the love he bore 
them, and how he had longed to minister to their 
needs, preferring his own diocese to all the grandeur of 

The ^lilanese nobles and citizens flocked to pay 
their respects to their Archbishop, who received all with 
loving-kindness and courtesy. Yet though his time 
was thus much engrossed, he commenced immediate 
preparations for the Council, and when the Bishops of 
the province arrived he assigned to each one his part 
in drawing up the decrees ; as the head and guide of 
the whole work sparing himself no fatigue night or 
day, so ardent was his desire to effect the needed re- 
forms throughout the province. The following were 
the Prelates who assembled at this synod : — ^Bernardino 
Scotto, Cardinal of Trani, Bishop of Piacenza, of the 

1 St. Lake xxii. 15. 

62 Life of SL Charles Borromeo. 

order of regular clerks ; Guido Ferrerio, Cardinal 
Bishop of Yercelli, to whom the Cardinal's hat was 
given in this Council by St. Charles in the name of 
the Pope ; Girolamo Yida, Bishop of Alba ; Mauritio 
Pietra of Vigevano, Cesare Gambara of Tortona, 
Scipione da Asti of Casale, Pietro Costachiaro of 
Acqui, Domenico Bollano of Brescia, Kicold Sfrondato 
of Cremona,^ Girolamo Gallarato of Alessandria della 
Paglia and Federigo Cornaro of Bergamo. The first- 
named of these, Cardinal Bernardino Scotto, made a 
protest against being considered a subject of the dio- 
cese of Milan, although he voluntarily assisted at the 
Council Five were prevented from attending through 
various impediments, but were represented by their 
procurators, viz., John Antonio Capisucco, Cardinal of 
the title of Santa Croce, Bishop of Lodi; John An- 
tonio Serbellone, Cardinal of the title of St George, 
Bishop of Novara ; Gasparo Capria, Bishop of Asti ; 
John Ambrogio Fiesco of Savona, and the procurator 
of the chapter of Ventimiglia, which diocese was at that 
time vacant. There were also present Cardinals Bobba 
and Castiglione, who came, not as a matter of obliga- 
tion, but out of a spirit of devotion to assist at this, the 
first fruits of the Council of Trent 

The first session was opened with a solemn proces- 
sion of all the prelates and clergy, accompanied by 
the senate, governor and magistrates of the city ; all 
of whom assisted at the High Mass. Father Bene- 
detto Palmio preached a discourse on the necessity of 

1 Who wai afterwards, in the year 1590, raited to the chair of St. Peter 
under the name of Gregory XIV. 

His Entry into Milan. 63 

reform: and Cardinal Borromeo delivered a Latin 
oration on the need of Provincial Councils. The 
decrees of the holy Council of Trent were read and 
formally accepted, and the execution of them in the 
province committed to the care of the Bishops by 
St. Charles. A public profession of faith was made 
by the Bishops, and many decrees and ordinances 
were published on discipline and reform, having espe- 
cial reference to Bishops. Great was the prudence, 
charity and zeal shown by St. Charles on this occa- 
sion, for the honour of God and the salvation of souls. 
He concluded the Council with a fervent exhortation 
to the Bishops to observe faithfully all that had been 
enjoined concerning the execution of the decrees. The 
zeal of the Archbishop was rewarded, for a very signal 
success attended this beginning of reform; and al- 
though there were some who doubted the possibility 
of so many details receiving due attention, yet St 
Charles, who put his trust in God alone, was rejoiced 
by beholding its full accomplishment to the good of 
souls and benefit of the province. A large concourse 
of people, some from far distant places, had assembled 
to witness the celebration of this synod. General 
admiration was felt, not so much at the majesty of 
the proceedings as at the spectacle of a Cardinal, young 
in years and exalted in dignity, intent only upon the 
service of God, preaching himself the Word of God 
from the pulpit, and wholly bent upon reform of his 
diocese; convoking a Council for the promulgation 
of decrees which he himself was the first to obey. 
The fame of his sanctity began to s^^read oa ^ 

64 Life of St. Charles Borronuo. 

sides, and his example stimulated the oldest Bishops 
to renewed zeal for souls, and for the welfare of 
their sees, determining them to reside each in his 
diocese. The Sovereign Pontiff was filled with satis- 
faction at the success of his nephew, and when he 
heard that St. Charles had preached during the cele- 
bration of High Mass, the Pope declared publicly that 
it was fitting that he himself, as the Supreme Pastor 
of souls, and Cardinals and Prelates having care of 
souls, should follow the example of the Archbishop 
of Milan. The Holy Father expressed his approval 
of all these good works in the following Brief which 
he sent to Milan : — 

Brief of Pius IV, to Cardinal Borroineo, 

" Your letters have been most welcome to us, more 
especially the last bearing date the 1 8th of this pre- 
sent month. We rejoice at the success of the synod, 
and the acceptation of the decrees of the Council of 
Trent ; we are likewise gratified by the readiness of 
the people to obey them, and by the goodwill of the 
governor and other ministers of the most Serene 
Catholic King, shown by their promises to help and 
favour their execution. We see clearly that God 
Himself is furthering your pious designs, and exhort 
you to persevere in giving good example and in 
endeavouring to establish the reign of virtue. You 
will, in due time, be pleased to go to Trent, there to 
meet and do honour to the Princesses ; you will also 

His Entry into Milan. 


carry out the other matters in accordance with what 
you know to be our will. We feel quite assured that 
in all things you will act with your accustomed pru- 
denca May the Lord preserve you." 

Rome, October 27, 1565. 


( 66 ) 




Father bad commissioned St. Cliarles to go 
there to receive with due honours the sisters 
iperor Maximilian — Joanna, wife of Francis 
i, Prince of Florence, and Barbara, wife of 
I'Este, Duke of Ferrara. The Cardinal was 
da Holiness to make all possible speed to 
ere his presence was greatly needed, both for 
ct of affairs and for the carrying out of the 

the Coimcil of Trent, regarding which many 
ere made to the Pope. 

wedting to start for Trent, the saint occupied 
L the visitations of several churches, chapters, 
ints, in execution of the decrees of the Council 
g Milan amidst general lamentation, St Charles 
r Trent, accompanied by the Cardinal of Ver- 
other prelates. On the way he made some 
Verona, and was received with great joy by 
' consecrated Bishop, Agostino Yalerio, whom 
^s much esteemed. Burning always with an 

Returns to Rovu\ 6 7 

ever-increasing zeal for souls, the saint humbly sought 
information concerning the traditions of the Church of 
Verona, and the mode of government of the late Bishop 
Giberto, interrogating on these points some of the pre- 
lates of the Bishop's household. On his arrival at Trent 
he received the Princesses, and conducted them with 
the utmost courtesy, the one to Ferrara, and the other 
to Fiorenzuola in Tuscany. Here he was startled by 
the arrival of a courier with news of the serious illness 
of the Sovereign Pontiff, and taking post-horses he 
hastened to Pome. Ou questioning the doctors, and 
learning that there was no hope of recovery, he went 
to the bedside of the Pope, and told him with calmness 
that his hour was come to leave this world. Placing 
a crucifix before him, he said, " Most Holy Father, 
turn now all your thoughts to your heavenly home, 
place all your hope in our crucified Lord, who is our 
resurrection and our life. He is our Advocate, and 
the Sacrifice ofifered for our sins. He turns away none 
who, with true sorrow for the sins they have com- 
mitted against Him, confess Him to be true God and 
true Man, and place all their confidence in Him. He 
is gracious and merciful, and takes compassion on true 
penitence and sorrow for sin. I therefore beg Him, 
since He has never refused to listen to your prayers, 
to grant you this grace according to His holy will." 

The dying Pontiff united his prayers with those of 
his nephew, and thought of nothing, for the short space 
of time that remained to him, but the salvation of his 
soul and preparation for death. He was greatly com- 
forted and helped by the prayers of the saint, who 


Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

excluded all temporal matters from the bedside of his 
uncle, and with wonderful strength of soul administered 
the Sacraments of Extreme Unction and the Holy 
Viaticum with his own hand ; never leaving him night 
or day, until he breathed his last in the most edifying 
sentiments, on the loth December, 1565, aged sixty- 
six years, eight months, and six days. He had reigned 
as Pope six years, less sixteen day& His last words 
were those of holy Simeon : " Nunc dimittis servum 
tuum, Domine," — " Lord, now lettest thou thy servant 
depart in peace." 

( 69 ) 




The Cardinal bore with fortitude the death of his uncle, 
seeing only in this, as in every other trial, the manifesta- 
tion of the holy Will of God, to which he ever tried 
to conform himself. The election of the new Pontiff 
depended in great measure upon him, most of the 
Cardinals having been created by his uncle, and there- 
fore well disposed to follow his suggestions. But with 
a soul far above all mere human considerations, St. 
Charles resolved to do all in his power to secure the 
election of a Pope who would be zealous for reform, 
and for the observation of the decrees of Trent 

This resolution of Cardinal Borromeo was vigorously 
combated by his friends and relations, who urged upon 
him the great advantage he might reap for himself by 
pursuing an opposite course, and that it would only be 
prudent in him to consider how he might further the 
interests of the Princes, who deserved his good offices. 
But St Charles was deaf to all such reasoning, and 
answered that he was bound to do otherwise by the 

70 Life of St, Charles Borromeo. 

holy canons, to which he was firmly resolved to adhere. 
On entering the Conclave, being asked by Cardinal 
Grassi as to whom they ought to elect Pope, he said, 
" We shall choose him who will be chosen by God." 

^Vllilst keeping his own counsel, from motives of 
prudence, he carefully considered the various qualifica- 
tions of the candidates for the Pontificate, and was 
much inclined towards Cardinal Michael Ghislieri, of 
Alessandria, of the order of St. Dominic, whom he 
knew from personal experience to possess many of the 
desired qualities, havinc^ frequently consulted him in 
important matters. ]>ut, on the other hand, there 
were reasons against his election. He had been 
created Cardinal by Paul IV., and was, on that 
account, an adherent of the House of Caraffa, He had 
also been looked upon with disfavour by his uncle, 
Pius IV., and it was to be expected that he would be 
naturally ill-disposed towards the friends of the last 
Pope. But these human considerations were of no 
weight with St. Charles ; he had long ago trodden 
under foot all private and personal interests, and 
sought only the glory of God and the good of .the 
ChurcL He gave his vote unreservedly in favour of 
the Cardinal of Alessandria, who was elected Pope 
by the Sacred College, and was crowned on the 7th 
January, i 566, taking the name of Pius V, at the re- 
quest of Cardinal Borromeo, in memory of his vmcle. 

This election was said by the world — always igno- 
rant of the things of God — to have been the sole 
and arbitrary choice of St. Charles, who had, it was 
alleged, withdrawn himself from the ordinary mode of 

i'Mimi • 1 - .M 

Election of tJte New Pontiff. 71 

procedure during the Conclave. But it was afterwards 
recognised that he was guided throughout by the Holy 
Spirit, for Pius V. proved a saintly and able Pontiflf. 
He carried out zealously the decrees of Trent, and was 
a great reformer of ecclesiastical discipline. He greatly 
esteemed and loved Cardinal Borromeo, who, on his 
part, held Pius V. in great veneration. The wisdom 
of St. Charles in this election was subsequently con- 
firmed by public opinion, for at his death Pius V. was 
by common consent reputed a saint 

The following letter to the Cardinal of Portugal 
bears witness to the purity of intention exercised by 
the saint in his choice of the Sovereign Pontifi*, and 
is a striking testimony in favour of the sanctity of 
Pius V. :— 

" To the Cardinal of PorttigaL 

" Although my grief at the death of my uncle the 
Sovereign Pontiff was great and proportioned to the 
paternal love he ever showed me and the veneration 
I bore him in return, yet no sorrow, however bitter, 
could ever distract me for a moment from my desire 
to do everything for the benefit of the Holy See. To 
my own private grief was added a twofold anxiety, 
because whilst I recognised the obligation resting upon 
me to act in union with the other Cardinals, I yet saw 
that there were some matters connected with the 
vacant see that were the special concern of my office. 
The times were fraught with evils for the Church. 
There were dangers to be guarded against on every 
side, from the attacks of heretics as well as from the 

Life of St. CJia7'les Borromeo. 

ed enemies of Christianity itself. It seemed to 
hat I ought to do all in my power to procure the 
ion of a Pontiff who would worthily replace him 
with so much prudence had known how to up- 
the authority and dignity of the Apostolic See in 
lOur of peril According to established usage we 
*ed into Conclave for the election of a Pontiff, and 
is end I can affirm that all my thoughts, desires, 
faculties were exclusively directed. Doubtless, it 
mewhat difficult for your Eminence and for the 
' prelates to form your judgment on my course of 
n. In proceeding to the election of a Pope, it is 
that I was bound to observe great care and dili- 
3, and to exclude every consideration except 
ervice of religion and of the Faith. This I did ; 
ill my efforts and wishes were directed solely 
rds the good of the universal Church, and to the 
ision of any kind of personal or private interest. 
Saving known the Cardinal of Alessandria for a 
derable time, and conceived a high esteem for him 
3C0unt of his singular holiness and zeal, I judged 
no more fitting Pontifif than he could be found 
•ule the Christian commonwealth wisely and 
I therefore took up his cause with all my 
t; and with little delay he was elected Pope 
he great satisfaction of all Nothing could 
3 great a consolation to me in my grief for my 
\ as the certainty that he is succeeded by one 
possesses all the qualities that your Eminence 
>athises with me in lamenting, and who with equal 
.ge and strength of soul will know how to main- 

Election of tJte New Pontiff. Ti 

tain and uphold the authority of reUgion. Let us 
meanwhile mutually rejoice that we have in him a 
wise and prudent Pontiff whose holiness is so great 
that it seems incapable, indeed, of increase, though, 
doubtless, it will have fresh manifestations through the 
wise counsels of your Eminence. 

"What you have written to me with so much 
prudence has been of the greatest consolation to me in 
my present trials ; for dear indeed to me is the true 
and solid affection you bear me, and the wisdom of 
your counsels, which I shall endeavour earnestly to 
carry out, feeling assured that in so doing I shall 
obtain light and consolation, ileanwhile, I pray our 
Lord to grant your Eminence health and prosperity." 

Rome, February 26, 1566. 

When the new Pontifif was fairly established in his 
see, Cardinal Borromeo put before him several impor- 
tant matters, which he thought demanded immediate 
consideration. Among these were the decrees of 
Trent, the new edition of the Roman Breviary and 
Missal, and the publication of the Boman Catechism. 
These were considered by St. Charles most necessary 
measures for the welfare of religion. He besought the 
Pope to confirm likewise with his Pontifical authority 
the decrees of his Provincial Council, so that he might, 
by virtue of the Papal confirmation, be able to cope 
with the difficulties that arose concerning their ob- 
servance. These requests were most pleasing to the 
Holy Father, who at once acceded to them, confirming 
all the decrees in general by a bull, bearing date June 

74 Life of St. Charles Borronteo. 

6th, 1566. He likewise confirmed some particular 
ordinances concerning regulars by three other bulls, 
dated respectively the 12 th and 19th of April, and 
the 24th May, 1566. He added another of the 27th 
June of the same year, in which he bound all to the 
observance of the aforesaid decrees. 

Having concluded his negotiations, St. Charles now 
craved permission to depart at once for his own see. 
But the new Pope stood in too much need of the 
counsels of the saint in the beginning of his Pontifical 
cares to part with him so soon, and showed great 
reluctance to accede to this request. The heart of St. 
Charles yearned, however, after the Church, which he 
looked upon as his spouse ; the grandeur of Eome, and 
the honour lavished on him by the Papal court and its 
princes was as nothing to him ; and though he might 
fairly have alleged that obedience to the Vicar of 
Christ dispensed him from residence, he only reiterated 
his request, urging that he considered it his duty to 
reside where the care of souls was committed to him. 
He added, moreover, that he had given a bad example 
to other Bishops, who might, on that account, absent 
themselves from their sees ; and that to secure the 
observation of the decrees of Trent in his province, it 
behoved him to be the first to obey the rule enjoining 
residence, so that his sufiragan Bishops might foUow 
his example. He at length obtained leave to depart 
from his Holiness, who exacted a promise that he would 
return the following autumn, from which engagement 
the saint was subsequently released. 

The Sovereign Pontiff granted him many Faculties 

Election of the New Pontiff. 


for the government of his diocese, to ^which he added 
several Pontifical letters addressed to the princes of 
the province to secure their good-^viIl and assistance 
in the work of reform. Before leaving Eome St. 
Charles made a change in his household, dismissing 
the greater number of his officials with liberal rewards 
for their services, and retaining only such as were likely 
to be of service to him in his diocese. 

Having received the Apostolic benediction, he reached 
ililan ngain on the Sth of April, 1566. 

I 566-1 5 72. 



Before relating the labours of this great pastor for the 
reformation of the Church of MiLin, it will be well to 
describe its extent and miserable condition. Just as 
the skill of the physician is shown by the cure of 
desperate maladies, so the worth of a Bishop, the 
spiritual physician, is seen in healing the sickness of 
souls committed to his care. 

The city of Milan was one of the largest in Italy. 
On the north, towards Germany, the diocese extended 
more than a hundred miles in length, and it included 
not only the State of Milan, but part of Venice, of the 
Duchy of Monteferrato, and of Switzerland. Lofty 
mountains surrounded a great part of it. Two thou- 
sand two hundred and twenty churches were under 
the jurisdiction of the Archbishop. Among these were 
fifty collegiate and eight hundred parish churches. 
The clergy numbered more than three thousand. The 
convents of women were seventy in number, without 
counting about twenty which were suppressed by St 

Stale of the City of Milan. 77 

Charles. There were a hundred communities of men. 
The total number of souls contained in the diocese was 
computed to be at least six hundred thousand. The 
province comprised fifteen bishoprics, embracing not 
only the State of Milan, but the whole of Monteferrato, 
part of Venice and Piedmont, and the Genoese Re- 
public, and extended along the shores of tlie Mediter- 
ranean to the borders of Provence. For more than 
eighty years Milan had been without a resident Arch- 
bishop, and left to the government of a single Vicar, 
but too often a man of lax discipline, who gave but a 
small portion of his time to the administration of the 
diocese. All this neglect, added to revolutions, wars, 
and other calamities of the times, had reduced the 
vineyard of the Lord to a deplorable condition. Not 
only was it barren of fruit, but the rank weeds of sin 
flourished in profusion for the chastisement of the 
wickedness of men. Ecclesiastical jurisdiction was 
almost entirely neglected, and in certain points was 
never exercised. It was altogether unknown in the 
valleys of Switzerland, clerics being liable to be cited 
before the lay tribunal The lives and manners of the 
clergy were as scandalous as can be conceived, and 
gave the worst example, for their way of living was 
altogether worldly, and more sensual by far than that 
of laymen. They wore the secular dress, carried arms 
publicly, and lived for the most part in open and 
habitual concubinage, absenting themselves from their 
benefices, and neglecting all things appertaining to the 
service of God. The churches and sacred things were 
in consequence in a neglected and disgraceful state. 

78 Life of St. Cliarles Borromeo. 

So great was the ignorance of many who liad cure of 
souls, that they did not know even the sacramental 
form of confession, nor that there were such things as 
reserved cases and censures. In some parts of the 
diocese ignorance had reached such a pitch that priests 
having cure of souls never went to confession, believing 
that they were not bound to do so, because they con- 
fessed others. ]\Iany other lamentable abuses were 
seen in the lives of the clergy, whose office was thus 
rendered contemptible, and little short of hateful, in 
the eyes of the laity, so that it had become a common 
saying, " If you want to go to hell, become a priest." 

Even the regulars were not exempt from these dis- 
orders. From the bad lives of both the secular and 
regular clergy, there sprang up among the people 
countless errors, corruptions, and heresies. Numbers 
having entirely lost all knowledge of God, abandoned, 
as a natural consequence, the observance of His holy 
law. The sacraments, especially Confession and Com- 
munion, were very lightly esteemed. Many persons 
neglected them for ten and fifteen years, or even longer. 
There were to be found men of ripe age who had 
never made a confession, and who did not even know 
the meaning of it ; whilst those persons who desired 
to keep up an appearance of Christianity, approached 
the sacraments once a year from custom rather than 
true devotion. A very small number were indeed yet 
to be found, both among clergy and people, who were 
assiduous in attending the sacred mysteries, whose 
Christian lives shone out in contrast to those of the 
majority around them. So much ignorance of the 

Siaie of tlie City of Milan. 79 

things of God prevailed, especially among the poor, 
that they had no knowledge of the foundations and 
principles of the Catholic faith, and were unable to 
say the Lord's Prayer or the Hail Mary. They did 
not know the Articles of the Faith or the Precepts of 
the Church, and could scarcely make the sign of the 
cross. Holy days were profaned by plays, dances, 
games, banquetings, and other disorders, as also by 
servile works, and public fairs and markets. It was 
as if Festivals had been ordained for the express pur- 
pose of multiplying occasions of offending God. Holy 
places were treated with the utmost irreverence. The 
business of the markets was carried on in the churches 
even during the time of the Divine Offices, ilen laughed 
and talked loudly in the assembly of the faithful, walk- 
ing up and down, as though it were a public lounge. 
Worse still, in some parts of the diocese banquets and 
balls were held in the churches ; while, at other times, 
they were used without any scruple for threshing grain, 
and other profane purposes. Eeligion was brought so 
low that men, in a state of semi-intoxication, would 
actually mock priests by feigning a wish to go to con- 
fession. They would even show themselves in the 
church with masks on, and, under pretence of making 
their offering, would seize upon the offerings of others. 
The majority altogether disregarded the observance of 
fasting days, especially during Lent, when not only 
milk food, but even flesh meat, was eaten openly and 
without scruple; and the bacchanalian orgies of the 
carnival were prolonged for several days of that holy 
season, during which public feasts, dances^ and disL- 

8o Life of St. Charles Borrameo. 

orders without number were carried on. The puUic 
scandals of adultery and of habitual concubinage were 
of continual occurrence, together with thousands of 
other vices and corruptions too numerous to mention. 
In like manner there was a neglect of discipline and 
strict observance in convents, the nuns allowing them- 
selves die greatest liberty, coming in and going out 
at their pleasure, and admitting seculars freely, there 
being no observance of enclosure. It were needless 
and distressing to dwell at any length upon the public 
entertainments, profane dances, and such like disorders 
of these convents, together with grievous and deplor- 
able scandals which resulted therefrom. 

Such was the miserable condition of the Church of 
Milan before Grod blessed it with the presence of St. 
Charles. Often would the saint weep bitterly when 
on his visits to his diocese he witnessed with his own 
eyes these miseries. It was not, however, to be won- 
dered at that weeds had overrun the vineyard, which 
had been so long deprived of a careful husbandman. 
Prelates and pastors may take warning from the suffer- 
ings entailed on their flocks by non-residence. Strict, 
indeed, will be the account they will have to render to 
Grod of all the souls whom their neglect has buried 
in hell. 

( 8i ) 



These disorders might well have been deemed incurable, 
since neither clergy nor laity seemed ready to submit 
to necessary remedies. It looked indeed as if no 
human power, however strong, could be equal to the 
work of reformation. But St. Charles never lost heart. 
The zealous pastor knew that he would be enabled to 
accomplish that which the Spirit of God had inspired 
him to attempt. Putting his whole confidence in the 
Divine assistance, he trusted that all his toils and 
labours would be abundantly blessed by His grace. He 
was greatly supported in this hope by the first fruits of 
the reform effected by Monsignor Ormaneto. 

He began to work earnestly to free his vineyard 
from the weeds with which it was so thickly overgrown. 
The first remedy he resolved to apply was that of 
constant residence, for he was convinced that the work 
mainly depended on his personal presence. So firm 
was his determination on this point, that he was 
ready to resign his dignity of Cardinal if it had been 
any obstacle to his remaining in his diocese; and 
souls were more precious in his sight than rank and 
worldly greatness. To this resolution he added 

VOL L r 

82 Life of St. Charles Borromeo, 

another equally decided, v^hxdi was, to be ready in case 
of need to give his life, like the good Shepherd, for 
his flock ; to allow no rest to his body, and to grudge 
no labour or fatigue in caring for the salvation of 
souls. Earnest prayer was the means whereby he 
sought assistance from God in his undertakings. It 
was his habit to take counsel with Him in all his 
affairs, and never to begin anything without this pre- 
paration. When the afifair was unusually weighty, he 
asked for the public prayers of the people, the clerg}', 
and religious houses. This was the source of the 
great success of his work. The life of our Lord Jesus 
Christ was the great model which he set before him- 
self in order that by conforming his own life thereto, 
he might perform his actions in the most perfect 
manner. This divine Life is indeed the exemplar which 
Bishops have to make the rule and pattern of all their 
actions in the direction of the souls committed to their 
care. Calling to mind the words with which St. Luke 
begins the Acts of the Apostles : " Jesus began to do, 
and to teach," St Charles resolved, in the first place, 
to attend to his own soul, by walking in the way of 
perfection and holy living, as an obligation to which 
he was bound by his episcopal character. In the next 
place, he strove with all his might to do good to his 
neighbour, remembering that it was the rule of the 
Apostle St Paul who said, in his Epistle to the Corin- 
thians, " I chastise my body and bring it into subjec- 
tion, lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I 
myself should become a castaway." ^ In like manner 

^ I Cor. ix. 27. 

Maimer of Life at Milan. 83 

be put before bimself the example of tbe saiuts, espe- 
cially such as were Bishops, his predecessors in the 
diocese of Milan, and strove to imitate their great 
deeds. Above all, he fixed his eyes on St. Ambrose, 
whom he had taken for his patron, and for this reason 
chose to be consecrated Bishop on the anniversary of 
the ordination of that saint^ It was observed that he 
not only paid that saint great honour, but that as far 
as possible he imitated him in everything as far as he 
could, so that the Cardinal of Verona calls liim the faith- 
ful imitator of St. Ambrose ; " and Cardinal Nicholas 
Sfrondato, Bishop of Cremona, who was afterwards 
Pope Gregory XIV., was in the habit of calling him the 
second Ambrose, a name also given to him by Cardinal 
Baronius in his Annals. St. Charles used to keep a pic- 
ture of St. Ambrose before him, in order to stimulate his 
zeal in imitating this saint, and also had a great vene- 
ration for the portrait of Cardinal Fisher, Bishop of 
Eochester, martyred by Henry VIII., King of England. 
He took pains also to collect the lives and writings of 
other Bishops who had been illustrious in the Church 
of God, as in the instance of Matteo Giberto, Bishop of 
Verona.* Thus, great as had been the virtues whicli 
adorned him up to this time, they now shone forth 
with brighter lustre. He tried to practise perfectly 
the rule given by St Paul to his disciple, the Bishop 
Titus: "In all things show thyself an example of 
good works."* 

1 December 7, 1563. 

* Vid, '*Life of St. Charlei,** by Cardin&l Agottino Valerio, Bishop 
of Verona. 
» Y\d. Book I. p. 52. < Tit. li. 7. 

84 Life of St Charles Borrameo. 

In this way St Charles made progress in reforming 
his diocese ; for not only did the holiness of his life 
make him pleasing to God, and worthy of His divine 
aid, but likewise gave efficacy to his exhortations and 
decrees. Certain regulations had been laid down at 
his Provincial Council on the manner of life of Bishops, 
and these he determined to carry out to the fullest 
extent in his own person. In order to be more free 
and disengaged from business, and to give himself 
wholly to the care of souls, he resigned twelve bene- 
fices and pensions, placing some absolutely in the 
hands of the Sovereign Pontiff, and applying others, 
by leave of the Apostolic See, to the support of colleges 
and pious works. Besides these ecclesiastical dignities, 
there were other emoluments which he resigned, — as 
the Principality of Oria, in the kingdom of Naples, 
which brought him a yearly revenue of ten thousand 
ducats. Three armed galleys, forming part of his 
brother's inheritance, he sold, applying the proceeds to 
pious uses. Lastly, that he might get rid of all super- 
fluity, he parted with the valuable furniture which he 
had brought from Rome. Part of this he presented to 
his Metropolitan Church, and part he sold in Milan 
and Venice for the benefit of the poor. Thus he only 
reserved for himself the Archbishopric, with a charge 
upon that of Toledo, in Spain, and an annual pension 
upon his patrimony, of which he had made his uncles, 
the Counts Borromeo, the administrators. He bestowed 
the Marquisate of Romagnano on his relation, Frederic 
Ferrerio, in order to be free from every worldly hin- 
drance, and to give himself up wholly to the serWce 

Manner of Life at Milan. 


of God. Out of a revenue of about a hundred thousand 
crowns, he left himself twenty thousand, and would 
most gladly have resigned that sum also out of his 
love for holy poverty, had it not been necessary for 
the maintenance of his household, the exercise of hos- 
pitality and almsgiving, according to the office of a 
Bishop. He reduced his household furniture to very 
modest proportions, and, as time went on, deprived 
himself of it entirely. In consequence of this self- 
denial, his fame spread far and near, and was of no 
small help to him in the administration of his diocese. 

p. 83.— (rt!»fr^o, Bishop of Verona, 

Giovanni Matteo Giberto wai born in 1495 &^ Palermo. He was made 
Biihop of Verona in 1524 by Clement VII. In 1537 he accompanied 
Cardinal Pole on bis uniuccessful mission to Henry VIII. of England. 
He died in 1543. His Conttitutionet Oibertina, published in Z733 by 
Ballerini, are admirable, and anticipate the decrees of the Council of 

( 86 ) 



One of the marks of a good Bishop is to have a well- 
ordered and exemplary household, because as intimately 
associated with himself, it is open to the scrutiny of 
all. For this reason, St. Charles, not satisfied with 
making the reforms before mentioned, determined to 
go more into detail, so that gradually he brought his 
household into perfect order. He admitted no one 
who was not a suitable subject for the ecclesiastical 
state, those only excepted who were occupied in 
menial duties. Speaking on this matter, he was wont 
to say that a prelate ought not to have laymen as 
his assistants, and that Bishops and Cardinals ought 
to observe the good rule which has always been kept 
up in the Papal household, where all the officials are 
ecclesiastics, or at least all wear the ecclesiastical habit 
He did not consider his own personal benefit in 
receiving subjects, but endeavoured to secure those 
only who would be able to be of service to the Church. 
All the members of his household, therefore, with the 
exception of the domestics, who were laymen, were 
either jDriests, or preparing for the priesthood, and 

His Regulation of his HouseJwld. 87 

many were doctors in theology and law. They 
amounted including his Vicars-General and the judges 
of his ecclesiastical court with their assistants to about 
a himdred in number. He was exceedingly particular 
in choosing these members of his household ; for great 
numbers eagerly sought admission, some from personal 
devotion to him, on account of his reputation for 
sanctity, some to learn his methods and mode of 
government; but he would only receive candidates of 
good repute, who were above motives of self-interest 
and had good credentials. He made it a rule not to 
bestow preferments on his officials; if he found any 
who were sordidly disposed, he dismissed them at 
once. A secretary on one occasion having accepted 
a benefice of small value from the Vicar-General 
without the leave of St Charles, was at once directed 
to resign it. But as he stubbornly refused to do so, 
St Charles dismissed him, preferring to lose his ser- 
vices than to sufifer a bad example to be set to his 
household. But as this had been his only fault, he 
continued to show him favour as one whom he 
esteemed, and recommended him as secretary to a 
Cardinal To guard his household from temptation 
St Charles gave them liberal salaries, and often made 
them suitable presents. Whenever he received any- 
one, however well recommended, he never failed to 
test his qualifications : and this notwithstanding any 
favourable impression he himself might have received 
from the gift God had bestowed upon him of reading 
character in the countenance. As, for example, if he 
considered the new subject fitted for teaching, he 

88 Life of St, Charles Bon'omeo. 

would set him to make a summary of the decrees of 
the Council of Trent, classing them under difiTerent 
heads. If he stood in need of spiritual training, he 
would make him study good authors, as Grauada and 
the like; he would also try him in acts of virtue, 
particularly in humility, which he desired to see 
practised by alL For this reason he never considered 
the noble birth or good education of any candidate, 
but insisted on his discharging humble offices, such 
as writing out instructions, acting as train-bearer, 
carrying baggage on a journey, or bearing his archi- 
episcopal cross which he consiJereJ as a most honour- 
able office. Occasionally he would keep a person near 
him for some time without assigning him any parti- 
cular duty in order to try his patience. Sometimes, 
before receiving candidates into his household, he sent 
them into retreat for several days in his seminaries, 
putting them under obedience to make special trial 
of themselves, and to follow the spiritual exercises, 
so as to lay a solid foundation for the ecclesiastical 
life. Thus, as gold in the furnace, he put all to the 
proof ; and if in the process any were found wanting 
in humility, patience, or other virtue, he declined his 
services courteously, being resolved to admit no one 
into his house who was led merely by ambition, or 
likely to give bad example. 

Those members of his household who had taken 
good degrees were employed by him in the administra- 
tion of the diocese ; and no matter what their offices 
might be, all had some part assigned to them in the 
business of visitations, inspections, and the like. In 

His Regulation of his Household. 89 

due time he preferred them, according to their deserts 
and good conduct, and advanced them gradually in 
this way to the higher posts and benefices involving 
residence, provided they did not ask for them. His 
watchfulness over them was so great that he knew 
the daily occupations of all, and did not give them 
leisure for a moment's idleness. 

St Charles drew up excellent rules for the manage- 
ment of his household both in temporal and spiritual 
matters; which are to be found at length in the 
" Acts of the Church of Milan." Briefly they are 
as follows : — He appointed a superior over all the 
members of the household to whom he gave the title 
of '' Prepositol' or "Provost," a name sanctioned iu 
Holy Scripture,^ in preference to that of Maggiordomo, 
or master of the household, which is in use in the 
houses of seculars; he directed that he should be a 
priest, and placed under him a Vicar, whose duty it 
was to look after the daily routine of the house ; an 
" Economo** or Procurator, and stewards, who had the 
charge of lands and revenues. He had twelve 
chamberlains, all priests and doctors, two of whom 
men of judgment and experience, he kept always 
with him as witnesses of all his actions, which he con- 
sidered a very great advantage for a Bishop. In addi- 
tion, he had two private Monitors, whom he allowed, 
or rather ordered, to reprove him with all plainness 
for whatever faults they might see in him, in order 
that he might correct them. This he afterwards 
recommended in his sixth Provincial Council, as a 

^ JadgM XX. 28, prapotitui doniot, et pamm. 

90 Life of St Charles Borromeo. 

nile for all Bishops of his Province, having found it 
to be a very efficacious means for making progress 
in virtue and holiness of life. Another priest he 
appointed Spiritual Prefect, whose office it was to 
manage all the spiritual affiiirs of the household, and 
to provide for all its requirements in this respect 
Another again was entrusted with all matters relating 
to hospitality, whose title was Prefect of the Guest 
Eooms, and it was his business to receive, and show 
attention to the prelates and other strangers who were 
constantly staying in the house. There were two 
Almoners, a public and a private one, of proved charity 
and compassion for the poor of Jesus Christ ; and an 
Infirmarian to whom was committed the charge of 
the sick. In like manner the lower offices of the 
house were filled only by those of exemplary life. 

In spiritual matters the priests of his household 
were bound to go to Confession at least once a week, 
and to say Mass every day. All others were bound 
to go to Confession at least once a month, to hear 
Mass every day, and to give the spiritual Prefect a 
written certificate of having fulfilled these duties from 
their confessor. Those bound to recite the Divine 
Office, who were not precluded by residence or occupa- 
tion elsewhere, met every morning in the Cardinal's 
antechamber at the second stroke of the cathedral bell, 
and there, together with him, if he was not prevented, 
they said Matins and Prime, preceded by at least a 
quarter of an hour's mental prayer as preparation for 
this duty of praise : the rest of the office being said 
at appointed hours. The others, not thus bound. 

Mis Regulation of his Household. 91 

assembled at the same time, in the archiepiscopal 
chapel and after mental prayer, recited the office of 
the Blessed Virgin as far as Vespers; which was 
said afterwards together with Compline, at a suitable 
time. After supper all met in the Chapel for Exami- 
nation of Conscience, after which the points for the 
next morning's meditation were given out, either by 
the Spiritual Prefect, or by some one deputed for the 
office: then after being sprinkled with holy water, 
each one retired to his room in silence as in a religious 
house ; it being strictly forbidden to stay out or even 
to go out at night without express permission either 
from the Cardinal or the Provost. In the winter, 
when it is usual to gather round the fire after supper, 
was the time fixed for the Spiritual Conference, so 
as to avoid idleness by profitable conversation. At 
these conferences, every one told with simplicity and 
modesty the subject of his meditation, and what fruit 
he had gathered from it. St. Charles was generally 
present at these conferences, in order to make them 
more useful by discoursing upon them. 

Instructions in Christian doctrine were given by 
appointed persons to the inferior servants, who met 
in the Chapel at stated hours to hear them. All the 
clerics were bound to be present at the Divine Offices 
in the Cathedral on Festivals, wearing cottas ; but the 
Vicars-General, and other officers of the tribunal who 
also attended, wore only their usual habit They 
were also bound to assist at sermons and at proces- 
sions, whether in the church or in the city. Their 
dress was exceedingly plain, silk and other costly stuffs 

92 Life of St, Charles Barranteo. 

being prohibited The ecclesiastics wore cassocks, 
according to their rank as directed in the decrees of 
the Councils. Those who were laymen dressed entirely 
in black, without lace or any useless ornament, and 
were not allowed to carry or keep by them any kind 
of arms or musical instruments: neither were they 
permitted to converse in their own rooms with any 
one, whether members of the household or strangers, 
nor to amuse themselves by singing together ; music 
being allowed only on Feast Days in the Chapel during 
the time of prayer ; even this custom was afterwards 
abolished by the express order of the Cardinal He 
had the Lives of the Saints and other spiritual books 
kept on the tables in his antechambers, and in the 
sacristy of the Cathedral, for the use both of his 
household and of any persons who might be waiting, 
so as to give them the opportunity of spending their 
time profitably, and of avoiding idle conversations. 
He afterwards issued a decree in the Fourth Pro- 
vincial Council, recommending this practice to his 
sufifragan Bishops. All, including his Vicars-General, 
had their repasts in common in a refectory built by 
him for the purpose. During the meal, spiritual 
books were read aloud, unless one of the priests of 
the seminary preached a sermon, when silence and 
attention were required from all. The Cardinal 
himself, in the earlier years of his episcopate, took 
his repasts in common with the others in this refec- 
tory, until he imposed on himself the rule of fasting 
on bread and water. The dishes were distributed in 
equal portions, each receiving his own share, which, 

His Regulation of his Houseliold. 93 

while strictly within the bounds of ecclesiastical 
moderation, was amply sufficient. After dinner and 
supper, they all went to the chapel to return thanks 
to God, and to recite the Litanies. Wednesdays were 
days of abstinence, and Fridays were fasting days. 
Not only were the vigils of Days of Obligation observed 
as fasting days, but also the vigils of Days of Devo- 
tion, and of the feasts of the canonised Archbishops 
of Milan. These amounted to thirty-six, including 
St. Bernard, who was elected but declined the dignity. 
Tlie Lenten fast began on Quinquagesima Sunday. 
During Advent which, according to the Ambrosian 
rite, begins on the first Sunday after the Feast of St. 
Martin, they abstained from flesh-meat and from milk- 
food, thus imitating their master at a distance : for he, 
at these seasons, chastised his body by fasting on bread 
and water. They also imitated him in the matter of 
the discipline, which they took together on Fridays, in 
honour of the Sacred Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Such indeed was the abstinence practised in this holy 
house, that flesh-meat was eaten in it during not more 
than three months of the year. He was very careful 
to provide for all needs of his household, and every 
member had his room furnished according to his rank 
and position. The sick were liberally provided with 
physicians, surgeons, medicine and good nursing, free 
of charge. His care for them was so great that he 
used to visit them himself when they were laid up : 
not only did he console them by pious exhortations, 
but he saw for himself that all their bodily and 
spiritual needs were supplied. Whenever any one had 

94 Life of St Charles Barromeo. 

to travel, the Cardinal provided him with a horse, and 
with money to procure aU things necessary for his 
journey, even when it was undertaken for private 

By these means he brought his household to such a 
state of regularity and order that it was not inferior 
to any religious house of strict observance. A Bishop 
and celebrated preacher, having seen the devotion, 
modesty, and exact observance practised in it, said that 
he wished all the world could see the court of the 
Cardinal of St. Praxedes, as it might truly be said to 
surpass the monasteries of Regulars in good discipline 
and obedience.^ All his household were loved by him 
and treated as his sons and brothers : and he strove 
earnestly to inspire them with the same mutual love 
for each other. With this object in view he was in 
the habit of visiting them personally at stated times, 
conversing with the least among them, in order to 
find out whether there existed any difference or bitter 
feeling, so as to remove it with as little delay as 
possible. These visits enabled him also to learn 
whether his rules were observed by all, and whether 
all wants were supplied. He would likewise inspect 
all the rooms to see that his orders were fully carried out. 
These visits were a great check to any disorders that 
might arise, especially as he used to make the round 
of the rooms at unexpected seasons, giving no one 

1 When Csesar Gonzaga, his brother-in-law, waa stopping in his house 
in June 1571, the Cardinal being awaj from home gave the following 
directions to his steward, " Do not disturb the usual order of the house 
on his account, and let him be told to be at home bj the Ave, as ihe 
doors must then be shut.^' 

His Regulation of his Household. g 5 

time to hide anything unbecoming that might be tliere. 
Once a month the Cardinal presided at a meeting to 
ascertain and provide whatever might be needed for the 
spiritual and temporal management of the house. At 
this meeting were present the various heads of the 
different departments, and those who held any authority. 
He insisted on his household being well cared for in 
all respects, and gave strict orders to that effect to the 
provost or superior. He took care that all should be 
fully occupied each in his own department, so that noc 
only was idleness, the root of all evil, banished, but every 
one had their hands full. Hard and severe as their 
condition appeared, seeing that they had scarcely 
breathing time for their many duties, yet they were 
full of joy and cheerfulness in the miJst of their 
labours, as they had continually before their eyes the 
example of their master, who toiled day and night 
indefatigably in the service of God. 

The Church gained great advantage from this well- 
managed household. His palace was in after times 
publicly proclaimed to have been a training-school for 
Bishops and Prelates. Many of these were employed 
by the Holy See as nuncios to the Courts of Europe, 
and in other important offices. More than twenty 
were selected to fill illustrious sees on account of the 
bright example they, had shown while members of the 
Cardinal's household. Among these were: Silvio 
Cardinal Antoniano, secretary of the Consistory and 
Chamberlain to Clement YIII. ; Nicold Ormaneto, 
Bishop of Padua, nuncio at the Court of Spain ; John 
Baptist Castello, Bishop of Simini, nuncio in France ; 

'96 Life of St Charles Borromeo. 

Jerome Federici, Bishop of Lodi, governor of Home 
and nuncio in Savoy ; John Francis Bonomo, Bishop 
of Vercelli, nuncio at the Court of the Emperor in 
Switzerland and in Flanders ; Caesar Speciano, Bishop 
of Cremona and nuncio both in Spain and to the 
Emperor Rudolph II. ; Owen Lewis, Bishop of Cassano 
and nuncio in Switzerland ; ^ Bemardine Morra, Bishop 
of Aversa, secretary of the Congregation of Bishops 
and President of that of Apostolical Reforms ; Nicholas 
Mascardo, Bishop of Brugnetto ; John Fontana, Bishop 
of Ferrara; Charles Bascapfe, Bishop of Novara, and 
Antonio Seneca, Bishop of Anagni, secretary of the Con- 
gregation of Indulgences and one of the Examiners of 
Bishops-elect at Rome. 

p. 89.— **Prira««Aronrtor«." 

Oirolamo Castano and Lodoyico Moneta were at one time appointed to 
this office. Castano related that he was once sererely taken to task by 
the Cardinal because he had left only Lodovico Moneta with him on the 
occasion of an audience given by the saint to his cousin*s wife. 

^ Dr. Owen Lewis was a man of great learning, ability, and experience 
in ecclesiastical affairs. Bom in 1534, he became a feUow of New College, 
Oxford, and Regius Professor of Canon Law at Oxford and Douay, 1568. 
An intimate friend of Cardinal Allen, he was of great assistance to him in 
the establishment of his Seminaries. In 1580 we hear of him as one of the 
Viears-General of St. Charles, and the saint is said to have died in his 
arms. Pope Sixtus V., on the nomination of Philip IL of Spain, made 
him Bishop of Cassano in Calabria, February 3, 1588. Gregory XIV. sent 
him as nuncio to the Swiss Cantons to arrange an intricate affnir in 1591. 
Clement VIII. appointed him one of the Apostolic Visitors of the city of 
Rome, and was only prevented by his death in October 1595 from making 
him a Cardinal to take the place of Cardinal Allen, who died in 1594. He 
was buried in the chapel of the English College at Rome. See ** Records 
of English Catholics,*' vols. L and ii. London, Nutt, 1877, 1882. 

( 97 ) 



The extent of the diocese of Milan required a great 
number of officials for its government. The saint, 
ever anxious for the greater good of the souls com- 
mitted to his care, carefully sought out men who 
were fitted for these charges, and brought several with 
him from Eome, as well as from other places, whenever 
he met with suitable persons. In so doing he was 
regardless of expense, for, besides paying for their 
journeys, keeping them in his house, and providing 
them with the ecclesiastical habit, he even in some 
instances defrayed the cost of their studies, till they 
obtained the degree of doctor. In fine, he spared 
neither labour nor expense when it was a question of 
procuring a supply of good administrators and labourers 
in the vineyard. When he had found them, he was as 
tenacious in keeping as he had been diligent in seeking 
them, so that, lavish as he was of everything else that 
he possessed, it was with the utmost difficulty that he 
could be prevailed upon to deprive the diocese of a well- 
qualified ecclesiastic. Some of these bound themselves 
voluntarily to his service ; among whom was Ludovico 
VOL. L ^ 

98 Life of St. Charles B arrant eo. 


Moneta, a Milanese of great holiness of life, who never 
would accept any Church preferment or salary, but lived 
sparingly on his own patrimony, spending very little on 
himself in order to give more to the poor. This vener- 
able priest, knowing the holiness of St. Charles, was 
devoted to him, serving him indefatigably for many 
years in various offices, besides being his constant com- 
panion in all his journeys and labours. St. Charles 
always held him in the highest esteem, and consulted 
him on all matters, finding him not only eminent for 
sincerity and holiness, but distinguished also by great 
prudence and judgment, with a wide and varied expe- 
rience. He survived the saint fourteen years, dying 
in the good old age of seventy-eight years, and left 
behind him a reputation for sanctity scarcely inferior 
to that of the saint himself. He was buried in the 
Church of Our Lady of Grace at Milan, and was fol- 
lowed to the grave by great numbers, especially of the 

The Cardinal distributed the work of the diocese 
among the officers whom he had chosen with much 
care and zeal, and special regard to the talent and 
capacity of each one. His prudence and discern- 
ment in this matter were more and more conspicuous 
as time brought him maturity of judgment. His atten- 
tion was first directed to the various needs of his 
diocese. It was of primary importance to have a 
Vicar-Greneral of exemplary life and mildness of char- 
acter, well versed in law and ecclesiastical discipline, 
and he was careful that this office should always be 
held by men of eminence. Two Assessors, the one 

His Administration of his Diocese. 99 

for civil, and the other for criminal causes, were asso- 
ciated "with the Vicar-General. 

There was also a Treasurer, and an Auditor whose 
business it was to attend to causes pertaining to the 
temporal government of the diocese. For these offices 
he always chose those who were not natives of Milan, 
in order that not being fettered by the petitions of 
friends and relations, or by any human respect or 
interest, they might be more free to render strict jus- 
tice. All these were members of the Cardinal's house- 
hold, living at his expense, and under the rules he had 
drawn up. He gave them handsome salaries, forbid- 
ding them to accept the smallest present, in order that 
justice might be administered without any motive of 
self-interest. Speaking on this subject, he was wont 
to say, that if he ever chanced to receive the most 
trifling present, he felt drawn to the giver, and for 
this reason it was his practice to decline theuL For 
the same reason, he forbade the members of his house- 
hold to recommend persons to any of the judges or 
other officers, or to use their influence in any law- 
suits or trials. All these dignitaries met together to 
decide the civil and criminal causes, in company with 
others duly qualified belonging to his household, or to 
the city, all being ecclesiastics. 

The Chancellor of the diocese used to be a layman, 
who was at liberty to receive registration fees and 
the like ; but when St Charles made the other reforms 
in this department, he revived the old custom of 
having a clerical Chancellor, who was a Canon in 
ordinary of the Cathedral Chapter, and of the order 

icx) Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

of deacons.^ The salary of this office was a hundred 
crowns a year, besides table expenses. A certain 
number of coadjutors were appointed under him, and 
he was also assisted by three notaries for criminal 
causes, all of whom had suitable salaries, besides their 
board as belonging to the household, and wearing the 
ecclesiastical habit. In the course of these reforms, he 
cut down the taxes of the Chancellor's Court to the 
smallest possible proportions, and insisted on many 
matters being settled gratis, especially such as con- 
cerned spiritual causes and ecclesiastical discipline. 
He had the regulations of this court printed and 
inserted in the " Acts of the Church of Milan." The 
money realised by the fees and charges was paid over to 
a treasurer appointed to receive them. There was an 
officer for the especial protection of prisoners, another 
for the defence of the poor in their lawsuits and causes ; 
together with a commissary of police, a custodian of 
prisons, and eight attendants for the service of his 
court, all receiving ample salaries. The fines exacted 
by these officials were placed in the hands of an eccle- 
siastical trustee, whose duty it was to distribute the 
money so collected among diflferent pious works, accord- 
ing to the decision of the Archbishop, or of the Vicar- 
Gen eraL 

Not content with having made these rules, and put 
his tribunals in order, St. Charles frequently inspected 
all the departments of administration, in order to see 

^ There are documents which show that St. Galdinos was Archiepis- 
copal Chancellor and Canon in ordinary of Milan, and subsequently Car- 
djua} and Archbishop, circd 1x70. 

His Administration of his Diocese. loi 

whether the different officers discharged their duties 
satisfactorily, so that justice was duly administered, and 
lawsuits expeditiously settled. He corrected with due 
charity any fault which he perceived in his deputies, and 
dismissed them if it was a case of serious neglect of 
duty. With the same object, he visited the prisons 
occasionally in person, and at other times he deputed 
some trustworthy person to ascertain their condition, 
whether the prisoners were properly attended to in 
spiritual and temporal matters ; and he appointed a 
spiritual prefect to take charge of their souls. He 
had an altar erected opposite the prison windows that 
they might hear Mass daily ; and he was particular in 
arranging for their morning and night prayers, and for 
their reception of the sacraments. 

The Cardinal, by means of these numerous coad- 
jutors, attended diligently to the souls committed 
to his care. Besides his Vicar-General, he had two 
Visitors -General, one for the city, and the other 
for the rest of the diocese, both of whom he chose 
with great care. He also appointed as Visitors of 
the city six priests as Prefects, the city being divided 
into six districts according to the number of the 
gates, one being assigned to the care of each prefect. 
The same arrangement was made for the diocese, 
which was divided into six provinces, over each of 
which, in like manner, was placed a priest with the 
title of visitor. Their duties consisted in visiting 
the churches and ecclesiastics of their district or pro- 
vince, for which office they had special authority and 
jurisdiction. They all met once a week in presence 

I02 Life of SL Charles Borromeo. 

of the Cardinal, to discuss these matters of reform and 
discipline, which meeting was called the " Congregation 
of Discipline." Besides this there were three other 
general meetings for the same object, one before the 
assembling of the diocesan synods, the second before 
the visitation of the diocese, and the third before the 
general meeting of the Vicars-Foran or rural deans. 

Sixty Vicars-Foran were appointed for the general 
government of the diocese. These were either the 
rectors of the parishes into which the diocese was 
divided, or other ecclesiastics chosen according to 
their fitness. These vicars were bound to visit the 
churches of their vicariate at stated times, to pro- 
vide for the execution of the orders given at these 
visits for different reforms, and to summon the clergy 
of the parish to the monthly meeting at which cases 
of conscience were decided, and things necessary for 
the cure of souls discussed. Every one who attended 
these meetings was bound to present to the vicar an 
attestation of having been to confession once a week 
during the month. These vicars were invested with 
a limited jurisdiction in civil causes, and were very 
careful to exact a strict observance of ecclesiastical 
discipline, and of the archiepiscopal decrees, both from 
clergy and laity. They were all bound to meet in 
presence of the Archbishop on the twelfth day before 
Septuagesima Sunday, previous to the assembling of 
the diocesan synod, after having each visited his 
own vicariate in order to report its condition at this 
meeting, so that particular regulations, if necessary, 
might be made at the synod for each district. 

His Administration of his Diocese, 103 

St. Charles had special regulations for communi- 
ties of religious women. He appointed a vicar and 
a certain number of visitors for spiritual matters» 
and other deputies and guardians for temporal con- 
cerns. The former was charged with the duty of 
visiting the convents at stated times, once a year at 
least, and taking particular care of them. All the reli- 
gious houses were distributed, so that each had his 
particular charge. These visitors also met once a 
week before the Archbishop, the meeting being called 
" The Congregation for the Care of Religious Houses," 
in order to discuss all matters relating thereto with a 
view to promote reform, and the observance of good 
discipline. In the same way, the temporal business 
of the convents was transacted by the deputies, some 
of whom were ecclesiastics, and the rest laymen. 

Believed on the one hand from the burden of tem- 
poral cares, and well supported in spiritual things, these 
servants of God were thus powerfully aided to run with 
vigour in the way of perfection to which they were bound 
by their vows. 

There were many other officers besides those already 
mentioned, such as prefects of the clergy, synodal 
witnesses, secret monitors, punctators, and others, 
amounting, it is calculated, to the number of four 
hundred. These were eyes, feet, and hands to the 
Archbishop, who effected great things by their means, 
and brought the Church of Milan into a flourishing 
state. Just as all the members of the body derive 
their life and vigour from the heart, so did all these 
officers receive their strength from the authority and 

104 Lif^ of St. Charles Barromeo. 

prudence of their head He inspired them with cour- 
age, wisdom, and desire for good works, giving them 
excellent instructions, and encouraging them in their 
labours by his own example. He was as it were the 
mainspring, moving all the rest with order, and keep- 
ing them continually watchful and diligent in all that 
concerned the service of God, and the salvation of souls. 
He taught them exactly all that they were bound to do, 
each in his own charge and office. This was the source 
of the excellence which was noted in so many persons 
trained in his school On one occasion, when convers- 
ing with some of his suffragan bishops, he said that he 
was so happy as to have at least thirty persons employed 
in his diocese, who were all well qualified to be at the 
head of any department, however important 

Note on p. 97. — ** Labourert in the Vineyard." 

Mgr. Speciaoo, the saint's agent in Rome, and afterwards Bishop of 
Cremona, says that the Cardinal nerer went to Rome without bringing 
back with him men of merit and distinction for employment in his 
diocese. Pope Pius IV. in 1560 commissioned his nephew to take note 
of aU men of piety and learning, in order to use them in the service of 
the Church. St. Philip Neri, who was always looking out for good 
priests, rejoiced in this gift of St. Charles, and spoke of him playfully as 
'* a most rapacious robber to carry off good men ; " and on another occa- 
sion, when the Cardinal hsd set his heart on bringing to Milan the cele- 
brated Father Caesar Baronius, of the Congregation of the Oratory, 
refused his permission, telling him *' he was a daring robber of good souls, 
and a man who would strip one altar to adorn another. " See Oltrocchi's 
notes, and "Life of St. Philip Neri," by Mgr. Capecelatro. Bums k 
Gates. 1882. 

( I05 ) 


The state of the Church of Klilan at this time might 
be compared to that of a vineyaril overgrowti with 
brambles and thorns. Abuses and sins Trere so rife 
that the good seed was almost choked. This state of 
affairs was well known to St. Charles, both through 
the information of Mgr. Ormaneto, and from bis own 
observations. The saint realised with grief that the 
chief caose of these miseries was the bad conduct of 
the cleigy, who, hj their ignorance, and yet more by 
their scandalous lives, were totally unfitted for the cure 
of souls. He saw that the only remedy for the evil 
lay in the foundation of seminaries for the training of 
clerics who, by holiness and learning, would be fitted 
for the sacred ministry. The Cooncil of Trent had 
recommended the erection of such seminaries, and SL 
Charles had some time previously sketched out his plan, 
as yet imperfect from the lack alike of fitting subjects 
and sufficient means for its execution. He saw that the 
assistance he needed was threefold. First, were needed 
good men to sustain the bordea of the management ; 

io6 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

secondly, a number of fresh priests to fill the vacant 
parishes; thirdly, there was need of some means 
whereby the clergy might supply their lack of learning, 
and be encouraged in the practice of priestly virtues, 
in order to labour more fruitfully in the vineyard. It 
was his especial aim to supply these pressing needs, 
and he directed his plans accordingly. 

The first and principal of these seminaries was 
established in Milan, under the patronage of St John 
the Baptist, to accommodate a hundred and fifty 
students, who, having gone through their studies of 
grammar, gave good promise of completing the full 
course of philosophy and theology. Another seminary, 
the Canonica, was adapted for sixty students, who were 
instructed in moral theology, the Sacred Scriptures, and 
the Roman Catechism, that they might be fitted for 
the direction of souls. The Collegiate Church of Santa 
Maria Falcorina, with an adjoining house for canons, 
had become reduced in funds, and was converted by St. 
Charles into a third seminary for the reformation of 
such priests who, from their irregularity of life and 
lack of knowledge, had become unfitted for the sacred 
ministry. They in like manner received instruction 
in moral theology and the Boman Catechism, and 
when they had gained sufficient knowledge of their 
duties, were allowed to return to their benefices. 

Large as these three seminaries were, they yet proved 
insufficient to accommodate the number of clerics 
necessary for carrying out the plans of the saint in their 
full extent He therefore found it necessary to estab- 
lish three more seminaries ; the first at Santa Maria di 

Seminaries for Training Clergy. 107 

Celana, in the parish of Brivio ; the second at Santa 
Maria della Noce, in Marliano; and the third at San 
Fermo, in Incino. Clerical students who had not com- 
pleted their course of grammar were divided according 
to age among these three houses, whence they were 
afterwards, in due time, transferred to IVIilan, where* 
they took their places in the principal seminary or the 
Canonica, according to their proficiency, and by these 
means provision was made for three hundred more 
clerics. Of these seminaries that of St. John the 
Baptist was the chief, the others being dependent 
upon it. 

The necessary furniture and alterations in the build- 
ings entailed a considerable outlay, which was defi-ayed 
by the Cardinal chiefly from his own private means. The 
students were only expected to find their clothing and 
their books ; if any were too poor to do even this, all 
their needs were supplied. None found a more ready 
welcome than poor students from the remote valleys 
and mountain districts. Good parish priests were 
very much needed in those parts, where it was scarcely 
possible for any to dwell except natives of the country, 
few of whom ever evinced a vocation to the priest- 
hood. St. Charles sought out the peasant boys of 
intelligence who were in service in Milan, and, when 
they showed capacity, trained them to be parish 
priests, and, in some cases, made good theologians of 
them, to supply the mountainous districts in this way 
with fervent pastors. 

The expenses of the seminaries had been defrayed, 
in the first instance, by the Cardinal, but, as the de- 

io8 Life of St. Charles Bar romeo. 

mands increased, he put in effect the recommendation 
of the Council of Trent^ and levied a rate for their 
maintenance upon the ecclesiastical benefices of the 
diocese, being himself the first to set the example of 
willingly paying his contribution. In this way was 
raised a fixed income of more than six thousand crowns 
a year. 

St. Charles never refused admission into his semi- 
naries to the rich, but always gave the preference to 
the poor, who could not obtain an education elsewhere. 
Likewise he admitted into them such priests of his 
diocese who, being desirous of assistance in their studies, 
sought yet more a renewal of fervour and strictness of 
life. Those who had been brought up in his seminaries 
were especially welcome. Many of these became rec- 
tors and professors of seminaries in other parts, where 
they laboured with abundant fruit The Constitutions 
of the seminaries were drawn up with prudence, in 
conformity with the orders of the Council of Trent. 
Four ecclesiastical delegates were appointed as a com- 
mittee of supervision, two of whom were chosen from the 
Chapter of the Metropolitan Church and two from among 
the other clergy, and were intrusted with the manage- 
ment of the revenues and the temporal concerns of the 
institute, on which St Charles held a weekly consul- 
tation with them, or as often as occasion demanded. 
The domestic and spiritual government of each semi- 
nary was presided over by a rector of piety and pru- 
dence, assisted by several coadjutors. Such was the 
mode of government of the chief seminary, and of all 
the various branch establishments. Each house was 

Seminaries for Training Clergy. lo 

provided with a role adapted to its special object an 
circumstances. These regulations are pi^eserved in tl 
•• Acts of the Church of Milan." 

For some years St Charles committed the directio 
of his seminaries to members of the Society of Jesu 
whom he also employed in many other offices in h: 
diocese. After a time, with their consent, he transferre 
the seminaries to the Congregation of the Oblate 
in order to know the characters of the student 
and so judge better of their several qualifications fc 
the various posts. He took especial care that the: 
spiritual father should be a man experienced in tli 
direction of souls, and in the guidance of youth to tb 
punctual practice of daily mental prayer and examina 
tion of conscience, together with the frequentation c 
the sacraments and the mortification of self. Si 
Charles provided also that the students should b 
trained in the true way of preaching the Word of Go( 
To this end the clerics were accustomed to preach i 
turns in the refectory during meals. 

The first care of St. Charles on the admission of 
new candidate -was that the edifice of his spiritual lif 
should rest on a solid foundation. He directed tha 
the neophyte should be kept apart from the othe 
students for some days of retirement and meditatio; 
under the guidance of his confessor ; and that the ol 
man might be entirely put off, a general confession wa 
made of the past life. These spiritual exercises wer 
renewed every year at the beginning of each course c 
studies, and likewise before they were admitted to th 
priesthood. These wise provisions were attended wit! 

I lo Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

great advantage. The system was afterwards rendered 
still more complete by the erection in the Carumica of 
a range of cells after the fashion of a Capuchin monas- 
tery. Over the door of this building was cut the 
word " Asceterium" in Greek characters, to denote that it 
was a place set apart for meditation and the spiritual 
life, which St. Charles valued far above mere culture 
of the intellect. He would often impress upon the 
young seminarists and those who had the charge of 
them that knowledge is of little worth unless it is 
based on the solid foundation of the fear of God. 
Great care was exercised also in providing the semi- 
naries with good professors, especially the principal 
college, where the full course of theology was studied. 
They were freed from all other occupations and engage- 
ments, in order that they might watch constantly over 
the youths under them, and be present at all their 
disputations and recitations. Once a week a lecture 
was given on the Roman Catechism and the doctrine 
of the Holy Sacraments and Christian life. 

Some of the more advanced of the students, who 
had been remarked for their regularity and zeal in 
the observance of discipline, were appointed with the 
title of prefect to watch over the rest in each dormi- 
tory, both by day and night, within and without the 
house. This proved a powerful means of influencing 
the rest for good, and of keeping them from evil. In 
addition to these helps to spiritual and intellectual 
culture, the Cardinal provided them with means of 
instruction in plain song and harmony, and the rites 
and ceremonies of the Church. 

Seminaries for Training Clergy. 1 1 1 

For the maintenance of regularity and discipline in 
the internal arrangements of his seminaries, there was 
appointed by him a second congregation of ecclesi- 
astics with the title of " spiritual delegates," who were 
commissioned to superintend the interior management 
of the seminaries. They met once a week to confer 
upon the order of studies, the observance of the rule, 
and the introduction of fresh regulations. 

All these provisions seemed to the saint but small 
in comparison with the importance of the persons con- 
cerned, seeing they were to be ministers of God and 
pastors of souls. He felt it incumbent on him to 
become acquainted with the most minute particulars 
of the working of his system, and to watch over the 
whole as the dearest of his obligations. Thus he was 
always present to receive new-comers, and, by con- 
versing with them, he made himself acquainted with 
their character, so that he might be better able to 
make his selection from among those who applied. 
After they were admitted he always retained a distinct 
recollection of each, remembering their faces and names 
in a manner that was astonishing, considering the great 
number he saw. He made a visitation of the seminary 
twice a year, at Easter, and at the beginning of Sep- 
tember. On these occasions all the students were 
examined in the presence of the Cardinal and of the 
spiritual delegates. St. Charles kept a note of the 
principal circumstances of each, such as their age, the 
circumstances of their parents, their expectations, 
talents, proficiency in their studies, aptitude for learn- 
ing, memory, and the rest. According to the progress 

112 Life of St. Cliarles Borromeo. 

they made, they were promoted to higher classes, some 
being sent to follow the courses of philosophy and theo- 
logy in the College of Jesuit Fathers which he estab- 
lished at Brera; while others went to the Caiwuica 
to study moral theology. When the whole course of 
training had been gone through, St. Charles made final 
selection of those who appeared most fitted for the 
higher offices in the diocese, and conferred on them 
the degree of Doctor, in virtue of the special faculty 
which he had received from the Apostolic See; en- 
dowing them with theological prebendaries, or with 
some other appointment conveying a title to orders. 
Those who had studied moral theology in like manner 
he provided with cure of souls according to their capa- 
cities. It bears witness to the charity of the saint 
that none were ever dismissed from the seminary with- 
out some provision having been made for them, except 
in extreme cases of unworthiness. 

Besides the annual examination as to proficiency 
in study, St. Charles often inquired minutely of the 
rectors and those who held office concerning the char- 
acter and deportment of each student ; then satisfying 
himself by personal interviews with each individual of 
the exactness of the report made of them, he investi- 
gated their progress in the spiritual life and religious 
exercises. This scrutiny enabled him not only to assist 
those whose souls were thus laid open to him, but also 
to discern their different qualifications. With words of 
charity he would then urge them on to the study of 
perfection and to progress in virtue. He also took 
advantage of these personal interviews to inquire into 

Seminaries for Training Clergy. 1 1 


their indiyidiial needs, in which he used to assist them 
as a father ; and, by well-directed questions, he learnt 
from them how the temporal concerns of the different 
seminaries were conducted. If, unhappily, a cleric 
was found to be leading an irregular or immoral life, 
the saint with great charity would do his best to bring 
him back to his duties with tender admonitions. 
If this failed, he had recourse to the imposition of 
penance, or sent him from one seminary to another, 
or to the house of some good priest, keeping his 
eye still upon him. In fine, he was so compassionate 
towards these weaknesses that he left no means un- 
tried to save such persons from danger of falling, and 
in doubtful cases, leaned rather to the side of mercy 
and compassion than to that of strict justice. Thus 
he saved many souls who would otherwise have been 
lost. He would often temper the zeal of superiors in 
administering correction, taking care to do it in such 
a way as not to diminish their authority, but rather 
to edify them and inspire them with his own spirit of 
gentle conciliation. His visits to the seminary were 
made with such thoroughness as well as punctuality, 
that they always lasted a fortnight, during which he 
never suffered himself to be disturbed by any other 
business. He left nothing undone, and found time 
during his visit to hold a special meeting of inquiry 
into temporal matters. To this meeting the temporal 
delegates were convened, and with their assistance 
the Cardinal ascertained that all was going on in 
order, according to his regiilations. Besides these long 
visits, he often paid shorter ones as occasion arose, 
YOL. I. ^ 

114 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

and threw life and interest by his presence into the 
studies and exercises. All prelates who came to Milan 
were taken to see them as places of spiritual recreation, 
there being interest enough attaching to the varied 
discourses, Latin orations, disputations, and other devo- 
tional and literary exercises of the students. The 
idea of the Cardinal was, however, rather to induce 
other Bishops to found similar institutions in their 
own dioceses by showing them the abundant fruits 
they might look for in reward for their labours. The 
refreshments given to these visitors were always pro- 
vided at his own cost, in order not to burden the 
means of the college. 

As time went on, it became certain that the glory 
of God was very much increased by the abundant 
harvest that sprung from the good seed sown by the 
saint. For, although at first students were few on 
account of the report that gained credit that the place 
was like a prison and that the health of the inmates 
was endangered by the severity of the rules, yet, 
after a short time, the number that applied was so 
great that admittance was perforce refused to many. 
Noble families in the city as well as in the country 
esteemed it an honour if the Cardinal accepted their 
sons. But he would never consent to anything that 
might prejudice those who had a greater claim upon 
him. Therefore every year before the September 
visitation of the seminaries, he required the rural 
deans to give him a list of the number of candidates 
in their district, and the condition of each one. From 
this list he selected the required number, always 

Seminaries for Training Clergy. 115 

taking care that every part of bis diocese should have 
a share in the benefit of the institute ; if be showed 
any favour it was to the poorer districts, especially 
the mountain parishes, the poverty of which deserved 
greater consideration. 

The institution of the seminaries may be considered 
without doubt to have been one of the most potent 
means employed by St. Charles for the restoration of 
Christian discipline. These schools of Divine wisdom 
are still indeed, as in the days of St. Charles, sending 
forth to the vineyard many holy priests eminent in 
their love for learning and discipline. The religious 
orders have gained subjects from the seminaries of 
the holy Cardinal of Milan: for the spiritual exer- 
cises enjoined by him taught many souls the empti- 
ness of the things of time, so that preferring a life 
of greater perfection they have entered monasteries 
where they have shone as models of perfection. Dis- 
tinguished preachers, prelates and theologians have 
sprung from the seminaries of the saint; and so 
many left the seminary to enter the Society of Jesus, 
that the Cardinal was anxious lest his diocese should 
suffer by this diminution of her ministers. Accord- 
ingly he deemed it advisable to procure a Brief from 
Gregory XIII. prohibiting his clerics from being 
admitted into the Society until four years after they 
had left the seminary. 

NqU on p. 106. — " TKt Principal or Grtat Seminary,** 

This wu opened in October 1565. the Canoniea in October 1571, after 
the luppreiftion of the order of the Frati HumiliatL 

1 16 Life of St. Charles Borrovteo. 

p. 107.—** San Fermo,** 

There it an anaclironism here, as it appears that this college wss not 
opened till 1591 hy the saint's snccessor. Archbishop Caspar Visoonti 
Father Giussano omits mention of the seminary established by St. Charles 
at Arona in the Abbey of St. Cratinian in the year' 1570. 

**Netd» oftht Seminarittt.** 

There is extant a letter of Father J. P. Bimio, of the Oblates of St. 
Ambrose, begging the Cardinal for a supply of shoes and stockings for 
the students. 

**Poor Scholars from the ValUyt.'* 

Among these was Father Marc Aurelio Grattarola, a native of Vnl 
Sasna who was thrice elected Superior of the Oblatcs of St. Ambrose, 
and had charge for ten years of the process of the saint's canonisation. 
He is the author of ** Succcssi mararif^lioii dtUa rencratione di S. Carlo," 
published at Milan, 2604. 

P. X09. — *^ The Great Seminary transferred to the Oblates of St. Ambrose.'' 

This was done by the saint in 1579, when Fathers Andrew Pionnio and 
Domenico Ferro took over the administration. 


The True Way of Preaching.'' 

Iilgr. Valerio, Bishop of Verona, at the desire of St. Chnrles drew up 
for the students a manual of Ecclesiastical Rhetoric, the MS. of which 
is still in the library of the Seminary. 

P. 11$.— '' Brief of Gregory XIII." 

This prohibition had been laid on the Society by a Brief of St. Pius V. 
dated July 23, 1570. See Sala's Documenti circa S. Carlo Borromeo, 
Milan, 1857, torn. i. p. 245. It was renewed by Gregory XIII. by Brief 
of September 4, 1577, five lililanese students having in the meantime 
been admitted into the Society. 

( 117 ) 



A.D. 1566. 

The fouDdation-stone was now laid, and the general 
outline planned of the work which St. Charles had 
undertaken for the glory of God. Fitting instruments 
for the carrying out of his design were at hand, and 
he resolved, like a good husbandman, to rest not night 
or day until he had uprooted all the weeds that cum- 
bered the ground, in the shape of abuses and evil 
customs that had crept into the diocese. The canons 
of his first Provincial Council, confirmed by Pius V., 
were now printed. They contained many decrees re- 
specting the restoration of divine worship, the defence 
of the faith, the administration of the Sacraments, and 
the reform of clergy and people. St. Charles sent 
copies to his particular friends among the Bishops 
and Archbishops of Europe, writing himself on the 
subject to the Cardinal of Portugal, the Archbishop 
of Braga, the Cardinals of Lorraine in France and 
of Warmia in Poland, the Archbishop of Salzburg in 
Germany, and others. His wish was to lead them to 
undertake similar reforms in their own dioceses, and 

1 1 8 Life of St. Charles Borromea. 

to give them information about the Provincial Council 
of Milan, which, as yet, was the solitary response to 
the recommendations of the Council of Trent on the 

One of the matters to which St. Charles applied his 
mind was most important in his eyes, viz., the teach- 
ing of Catholic doctrine. It had been sadly neglected 
for some time past, especially in the province of Milan, 
where the purity of the faith was endangered by the 
proximity of heretical sects, and also unhappily by the 
loose habits and conduct of the clergy and people, 
which is wont to give rise to heresy. Such tenden- 
cies had already appeared in the province, and certain 
preachers were suspected of being tainted with the 
infection. Eules were, in consequence, laid down by 
St Charles for his Vicars-general in order to deal with 
the evil, and he urged the Father Inquisitor to be 
watchful, and promised him every assistance, with a 
sum of two hundred crowns annually from his own 
purse, to enable him to maintain a sufficient staff 
to carry on the work. This provision was, after his 
death, ordered to be paid in perpetuity by a decree 
of the Apostolic See, requiring that the Archbishops 
of the diocese for the time being should pay the 
whole of the said sum. St Charles likewise appointed 
certain censors to examine books already in circula- 
tion, and forbade printers, under pain of severe penal- 
ties and censures, to issue any work without a license 
from the Father Inquisitor. These measures were an 
effectual bar to the long-prevailing custom of issuing 
profane books with impunity. The Congregation of 

Progress in the Work of Reforfn. 1 1 9 

the Holy Office founded by him consisted of the Arch- 
bishop, the Inquisitors with their Vicars and Fiscals, 
besides other ecclesiastical councillors, theologians, 
canc&ists, and laymen learned in the law ; all of 
whom, being selected with care, rewarded his vigil- 
ance by the great benefit which resulted from their 
laboirs for the suppression of the prevailing licen- 
tiousness. He established also the Congregation of 
the Index, whose office it was to exercise supervision 
over he press for the suppression or correction of 
dangeTDus or doubtful works tendinq to heresv or sus- 
pected %f falf?e doctrines. Regulations for the guid- 
ance of irinters and booksellers contributed to the 
effectual endication of all publications injurious to 
faith or mords.i 

St. Charles nstructed rural deans and parish priests 
to be on theii guard against foreigners, especially 
such as came fr<in countries suspected of heterodoxy. 
There were knowi. to be coming from France workmen 
and hawkers, goinj. about selling trifling wares, who 
carried prohibited bt)ks concealed in their packs ; they 
were, by order of tht Cardinal, subjected to strict ex- 
amination, for in this »ay not only heretical opinions, 
but books containing Vjperstitious and profane rites 
were let loose on the Suntry. When any of these 
persons were discovered,^hey were, by order of the 
Cardinal, brought at onc\ before his tribunal By 
this prudent foresight nuii^ers of the simple-minded 
were saved from contaminaVjn. All persons belong- 
ing to the diocese were forldden to visit heretical 

1 AcU of the Church ofWo. Part IIL 

1 20 Life of St Charles Borronuo. 

countries, or to hold intercourse with them without 
express leave in writing, commending the beaier to 
the especial care of his parish priest Finallj, this 
watchful shepherd required all teachers of joutii to 
make a public profession of their faith, and to preserve 
their charges from contagion by making use onlv of 
approved books. 

It may be said that St Charles neglected noth^g in 
order to defeat the enemy of souls and preserve invio- 
late the purity of the Catholic Faith in his diocise. 

Ifoteon p. 117. — The Cardinal of Portugal y dre, 

Henrj', Archbisliop of Evora, uncle of Sebastian, King of Portugal, iras 
made Canlinal in 1546 by Pope Paul III. After the ieuth of King 
Sebastian, in 2iIorocco, in 1578, he succeeded to the throve '"^t the age of 
sixty-seven. His councillors exhorted him to marry ooAccount of there 
being many a&pirants to the throne. Application w^ made for a dis- 
pensation to Pope Gregory XIII., who refused to gpnt it, and the Car- 
dinnl-King formally withdrew the petition. He (^<1 >» 1580, after a 
short reign of two years. See Book VIII., chapte'XXIV. 

Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine, born 1525, Arch>sl^op of Rheims, died 
at Avignon, 1574. 

Stanislaus Uosius, Bishop of Warmia, was 0* of the Cardinal Presi- 
dents of the Council of Trent and Grand Peuit^^^i'7> died 1579, and was 
buried in Santa Maria Tiastevere in Rome. 

P. 119.—'* SupervUion of ^^ Press.'* 

From a letter to his Vicar-General Onr***^* »n 1566, it appears that 
the saint once discharged this office in pe'^n* i^nd that his visit was not 
much liked by the booksellers, whose y»^mes he one day turned over 
without giving any notice. He con fished heretical works, but at his 
own expense provided the dealers wi* Catholic books in their stead, 
according to the testimony of Ottavi*o Abbiato Forrero his chaplain, 
afterwards Arch-priest of the Duomqr^i^i Oblate of St. Ambrose. 




( 121 ) 





Next in order to the care of the saint for the integrity 
of the faith came his earnest desire for the reformation 
of the clergy. None knew better than he that the 
morals of the people depend materially upon the cha- 
racter of their pastors. He held, too, that it behoves 
a prelate in authority over others to have a thorough 
knowledge of his priests, and to facilitate this he kept 
a record of all particulars concerning each one in his 
diocese, their name, surname, and standing; whether 
they did the duties devolving upon them, what bene- 
fices they held, and what qualifications they had, and 
the examinations they had passed. All additions or 
changes throughout the year were recorded, and pre- 
cautions taken to ensure accuracy. The information 
he thus gained was of the utmost use to him in his visi- 
tations, as it enabled him to select from among his clergy 
those who would be able to co-operate with him in the 
carrying out of his measures, and give assistance to those 
who needed it. He summoned to Milan many priests 

122 Life of St Charles Borromeo. 

of the diocese who were imperfect in the knowledge 
requisite for their duties, and gave them the henefit of 
a special instructor, who gave them lectures in eccle- 
siastical discipline and in the principles of spiritual 

By these means he remedied in a short space of 
time the ignorance and scandalous life that prevailed 
among ecclesiastics ; and though his priests were more 
than three thousand in number, he yet had such 
an accurate knowledge of them that on hearing the 
name of any individual, he at once remembered all 
about him, his name, his character, and his particular 
duties — a marvellous fact considering the multitude 
and diversity of the Cardinal's engagements. 

He was in the habit also of visiting his priests at 
their own residences without giving them any notice 
of his intention. He found this a good means of 
putting a stop to various irregularities. Four hours 
sufficed him in this way to visit all the presbyteries in 

One of the first steps taken by St. Charles for the 
reform of the clergy was a censure of all who ne- 
glected to wear the cassock proper to their calling. 

Those priests who were possessed of several bene- 
fices were ordered to resign all but one ; in which St. 
Charles enjoined them to take up their residence, as 
much dishonour to the Church and scandal to the 
laity had resulted from non-residence. In this matter 
he found it necessary to adopt unusual severity, as the 
evil with which he had to cope was most inveterate ; 
and the subjects with whom he had to deal were too 

TIu Work of Reform. 123 

hardened and obstinate to receive bis admonitions in a 
rigbt spirit, if be bad only acted witb bis cbaracter- 
istic gentleness. Mucb against bis inclination be was 
obliged to resort to punishment in order to put an end 
to scandals. Little by little be led on bis clergy to a 
strict obser\'ance of the decrees of the Provincial 
Council To give still greater effect to his enactments, 
be commenced at this time the visitation of the city 
and diocese. 

The saint, after doing all he could for the clergy, 
directed his attention to the reform of the religious 
communities of women, which indeed stood in great 
need of supervision. He visited the convents, and 
enjoined upon them the execution of the decrees of 
Trent, those of bis own Synod, and the constitutions 
of the Sovereign Pontiffs. But the enemy of souls 
raised up a storm of opposition, especially in convents 
directed by Eegulars, under the pretext of asserting 
all immunities and exemptions in their integrity, 
which was but a cloak for the assumption of undue 
liberty. The families even of the nuns took part in 
the disputes, and determined to resist to the utmost 
the execution of the decrees and reforms. Evil 
advisers abounded, and opposition was met with in the 
most unexpected quarters. The matter soon assumed 
such importance that the Town Council took cog- 
nisance of it» and proposed to despatch an envoy to the 
Supreme Pontiff to beg him to interpose his authority 
to prevent the threatened changes. But by the mercy 
of God this step was rendered unnecessary. St 
Charles exercised so mucb tact and patience that not 

1 24 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

only was peace re-established, but the yerj opposition 
his views had encountered tended to bring out in 
still clearer relief the singlemindedness of his motives. 
All were forced to acknowledge that his efforts sprung 
solely from his zeal for the glory of God and the salva- 
tion of souls. 

Having thus put an end to all contradictions, the 
Cardinal carried out in course of time all his measures 
of reform. He suppressed several religious houses 
throughout the city and diocese on account of various 
inconveniences, and transferred the nuns to other con- 
vents. In some cases he put in force the special 
powers conferred upon him by the Holy See of with- 
drawing the direction from the Regulars to place them 
under the immediate jurisdiction of the Ordinary. His 
principal object was the enforcement of observance 
of strict enclosure in each convent, and punctual 
observation of the rules. By providing them with 
visitors and confessors experienced in the spiritual life, 
in a short space of time a great and edifying change 
became apparent in the discipline and habits of these 
convents, and they were indeed reformed in newness 
of life. 

Whilst thus occupied with religious persons, the Cardi- 
nal was not unmindful of the need in which the laity 
were of his reforming hand on account of the open licen- 
tiousness which prevailed among many. He turned his 
attention first to the teaching of the truths of faith and 
Christian doctrine : he impressed this duty upon all the 
clergy, but especially on the parish priests having the 
care of souls, and provided them with lay assistants and 

The Society of Jesus in Milan. 1 25 

other aids. Burning with zeal and love for souls, the 
holy Cardinal not only preached himself, but set a 
practical example of fervour in these pastoral labours 
by administering the Word of God and the Sacra- 
ments. On the Feast of Pentecost large numbers re- 
ceived the Sacrament of Confirmation from his hands. 
With regard to the reception of this Sacrament, he 
directed that the recipient should have attained at 
least the age of eight, and should go to Confession 
and Communion on the day, if of age to receive Com- 
munion, and should take the name of some saint. He 
always administered the Sacrament as soon as possible 
after early Mass, to give it greater honour, and ensure 
its reception with more devotion. A sermon on the 
efficacy and requisite preparation preceded the cele- 
bration of the rite. Never had the people witnessed 
so much zeal in the service of God as was evinced by 
their Cardinal; and he had his reward in their in- 
creased love and reverence for holy things. 

But the indefatigable pastor was still full of anxiety 
concerning the welfare of his flock. He had long 
grieved over the scarcity of labourers, and the abun- 
dant harvest which rewarded his own efibrts made him 
the more solicitous that husbandmen should be found 
to assist in the good work. There was at that time in 
Milan an eminent and zealous preacher. Father Bene- 
detto Palmio, Provincial of the Society of Jesus in 
Lombardy. In 1563 this Father had been sent to 
Milan by St Charles, who now consulted him as to 
the foundation of a Jesuit College in Milan. With 
the consent of the General of the Order, the establish- 

126 Life of St. C liar Us Borromeo. 

ment was begun without delay, and from the outset 
it was supplied with Fathers of singular devotion 
and zeal for the glory of God. St. Charles assigned 
to them the church of San Fedele, transferring its cure 
of souls to that of San Stefano, and provided them with 
furniture and all other necessaries for their housa He 
employed these Fathers in the direction of his newly- 
founded seminaries, in the guidance of souls, and other 
works. Filled with the spirit of Divine charity, these 
holy men were fervent in preaching, diligent in hearing 
confessions, and assiduous in every duty of the sacred 
ministry, giving proof in all that they did of great 
prudence and sound doctrine. The saint also availed 
himself largely of the services of the congregation of 
Regular Clerks of St. Paul, called Barnabites, whom 
he found already established at Milan. 

Desiring to make his own house a model of piety 
and devotion to all his people, the Cardinal, in 
addition to the practice of the usual religious exer- 
cises, instituted in his chapel public night prayers, 
inviting many of the people of Milan to assist every 
evening at prayers said in common, spiritual confer- 
ences, and singing of the Divine praises to the accom- 
paniment of sacred music. By these means many were 
drawn to a love of piety, and a relish for the things of 
God. These gatherings were often attended by the 
nobles of the city, many of whom were won to a 
holier life by the grace and sweetness of the counsels 
with which he sought to benefit their souls. Surpris- 
ing indeed was the reformation wrought in a short time 
among his flock, but the evil was too deeply rooted to 

The Work of Reform. 127 

be entirely overcome by gentle measures, and he was 
obliged to legislate with greater authority. 

Already some steps towards the restoration of Chris- 
tian discipline had been made by Monsignor Ormaneto, 
who had laid special stress upon the fulfilment of the 
Easter duty of Confession and Communion, and the pro- 
fession of faith in presence of the parish priest. He 
was strenuously supported by the Duke of Sessa, 
governor of Milan, who made his own household set 
the example of so doing. The Marquis of Fescara 
did likewise, making the refusal to comply with the 
injunction tantamount to instant dismissal from his 
service. These examples produced a great effect upon 
the rest of the people, and roused mauy from the 
lethargy in which they were plunged, to a conscious- 
ness of the importance of the things of God. The 
good pastor deemed it now opportune to require the 
observance of the precept, and he therefore required 
all parish priests to draw up a list of those who had 
failed to come to their spiritual duties ; and to take 
note of all who were leading irregular lives, that he 
might provide for their reformation and correction. 
Very great were the scandals that reigned with impu- 
nity, and among the worst of these vices was the public 
concubinage that provoked the especial wrath of God. 
St. Charles resolved to drive out this cankerworm of 
society, and published an edict against it on the 
2 1st August 1566, enforcing also other decrees of 
the Council of Trent, and of his Provincial Synod on 
the reformation of morals, the observance of festivals 
and fasts, and the suppression of theatrical perform- 

Life of St. Charles Borromeo, 

I and other abuses on days of obligation. In all 
I xneasoies he did not shrink from the soTerity 
inded bj the corruption of the age. 
it the enemj of souls, enraged at the escape of so 
r from his power, now put forth all his malice to 
t the endeavours of the saint to win them to the 
of Christ. He craftily aimed at undermining the 
>rit7 which had enabled St Charles to carry out 
leasures, through the cheerful submission of his 
ie, suggesting doubts of the good intentions of the 
inal, of his sanctity and of the prudence of his 
nistration, and instigating evil-minded persons to 
late reports to the effect that the Cardinal had 
topped the limits of his authority, and was exer- 
\ intolerable severity. 
le multitude, easily led by specious pretences, gave 

these charges. Some said that his abundant 
Leeds, his austerity and other good works, sprung 
ambition and vainglory, and a wish to pass for a 

Others accused him of want of judgment, of 
Eince of the true principles of government, and 
acity to govern even himself, whilst he took 
$il with incapable and ignorant men who misled 
These calumnies chilled the fervour which his 
rs had kindled, and withdrew many from follow- 
ne whose piety was thus stigmatised as hollow 
ypocriticaL His decrees and his authority began 
openly contemned and disputed. Even some of 
wn friends drew back from him, and doubted 
ler he had acted wisely in thus incurring the 

1 of a licentious and unscrupulous populace. 

The Work of Reform, 129 

One prelate of high position even thought fit to address 
some words of warning to him, couched, however, in 
terms of fraternal moderation. 

When the reality of the holiness of St. Chailes was 
thus called in question, its true and solid nature was 
never more apparent than amidst this storm of invec- 
tive. Of small moment was it to his humble soul 
that he himself should be misrepresented and despised. 
Like his Master, he sought not his own rforv. But 
deeply he grieved at the dishonour done to episcopal 
authority, and above all at the interruption of the 
labours he had in hand for the salvation of souls. Not 
for one moment, however, did his trust in God falter. 
Well he knew that such trials are the lot of all the 
servants of God, and that those who labour for the 
salvation of others are often distimjuished bv a greater 
share in the cross of their Lord. 

Undauntedly he went on his way, turning a deaf 
ear to the vain judgments of the men of this world. 
He might have taken as his motto the words of the 
Apostle St. Paul : " To me it is of the least account to 
be judged by you or by the day of man." ^ 

Nevertheless he lost no opportunity of contradicting 
the falsehoods that were afloat, for he considered that 
they greatly impeded his efforts for the good of souls. 
He opened his whole heart to the prelate who had 
written 80 severely to him, humbly asking for his 
counsel, and thanking him for having admonished him 
with 80 much zeal and charitv, and admitting; that 
there was some foundation for the charge of severity 

* X Cor. It. 3. 
VOL. L \ 

130 Life of SL C/iarles Borromeo^ 

which had been brought against him. But he justified 
his seeming rigour by the fact that it had been rendered 
necessary owing to the sad condition of the diocese, 
which had obliged the employment of severe measures 
for the salvation of the souls that he loved too tenderly 
to spare the pruning-knife their miseries required. 

St Charles thought it right to render this account 
of himself; but, far from holding tenaciously to his 
own opinions, or despising the judgments of superiors, 
he prayed his monitor, by the good-will which he had 
shown, to assist him with his advice upon the best 
course to be pursued in future. He knew well that 
none can be self-sufficient and despise the help of 
others, and that often those most need advice who 
have refused to be admonished. The prelate to whom 
he wrote did hira justice, and encouraged him to pro- 
ceed with his reforms without regarding the efforts of 
the Evil One to defeat the work of grace. 

P, 12$. — ''Jesuit Fathers.'' 
Among other Jesuit Fathers who laboured in the diocese were F. 
Francesco Adomo, Achille Gaglinrdi, Leonetti, Perusco, Emanuelle Si, 
Pietro Kibadeneira, Jacopo Paz, Alfonso Sgariglia and many others. 

P. 126.— ''Bamabites." 
So called from their church of St. Barnabas in Milan. Of this order 
the Blessed Alexander Sauli, Bishop of Aleiia in Corsics, of which island 
he was called the Apostle, was confessor of St. Charles : Mgr. Carlo 
Bascap^, Bishop of Novara, wrote his life in Latin, published in 1592. | 
F. Dominic Boero Wi\s sent by him into Switzerland, and the Fathers 
Besozzi, Marta, Asinari, Homudei and Michieli filled various ofBces of 

P. 129.—'* Prelate of Hifjh Position.'' 

This prelate is supposed to be St. Charles's great friend Gabriel Paleotto, 
Bishop of I^ologna, made Cardinal by Pius IV. He had been professor 
of law ut Bologna, the Cardinal's theologian at the Council of Trent, one 
of the lights of the day. He died in 1597 at the age of seventy-three, with 
the reputation of uever having sullied his baptismal innocence. 

( 131 ) 



TuE principal means employed by St. Charles ia bis work 
of reform were, after tbe foundation of seminaries and 
the celebmtion of provincial and diocesan councils, the 
continued visitation of his diocese, either in person or 
by proxy. By this means he learnt the needs of the 
clergy and people ; and his synods enabled him to 
provide for them by various decrees. 

The saint was most punctual in the celebration of 
the councils at the appointed times, as also in his 
visitations, in which he persevered to the last days of 
his life, deeming these two measures of greater import- 
ance for the welfare of his flock than any of his other 
pastoral functions. He would often say that he 
counted all the other labours of his vicars-general as 
nothing in comparison with their visitations. 

Overwhelmed as he was with a variety of business, 
he yet found time formally to visit in person the 
whole of his diocese twice in the year. Churches, 
oratories, convents, monasteries, hospitals, were each 
and all subjected in this way to the watchful care of 
their pastor, and no amount of difficulty in the way of 
travelling to remote localities could davmt \^ ii^« 

132 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

He cherished with great care the schools of Christian 
doctrine, which he always examined himself, consider- 
ing them of the first importance for the training of the 
faithful in the practice of Christian duties, and teaching 
them to spend the festivals of the Church in a holy 
manner, by abstaining from the profane games and 
unseemly diversions in which they had been wont to 

His journeyings in making these inspections were 
most fatiguing, his way often lying across rocky passes 
and steep mountains, up which he might be seen 
toiling, staff in hand, alternately frozen with the cold 
or exhausted by heat. In most places the path was 
impracticable to horses, and he was obliged, therefore, 
to travel many a mile on foot like a simple moun- 
taineer. Often in his humility and charity he would 
insist on relieving his companions of the heaviest 
portion of the baggage, and we have also on record 
that when the path lay across a craggy rock or beside 
a precipice so steep that the natives themselves were 
accustomed to preserve their feet from slipping by 
iron spikes on their shoes, St. Charles, in the ardour of 
his zeal, would hasten on, supporting himself with his 
hands on the ground — on all fours, as the saying is. 

His travels often brought him to districts where no 
bishop had ever been before, and to the edification 
of the beholders on these occasions, he would allow 
himself no rest after his toilsome journey, but, after 
spending some time in prayer in the church, would at 
once open the business of the visitation. So soon 
as he had fulfilled thd object of his journey in one 

Visitation of the City and Diocese. i 


place, he set out at once for the next Thus it often 
happened that for many days together he "was tra- 
velling from place to place. Only in the larger towns, 
where the amount of business demanded it, did he ever 
spend more than one day. 

It was his invariable custom to take up his abode 
in the presbytery of the place, even when comfortable 
apartments might have been at his service in the 
houses of the rich. Thus be often passed the night 
lying on bare boards, or, it may be, on a little straw, 
having given up his bed to one of his household ; he 
practised similar self-denial with regard to food, leaving 
the best for them and contenting himself with a 
handful of chestnuts and a little milk, or the coarse 
diet of the country. If he showed any preference, it 
was always for the poorest fare. His attendants 
were strictly forbidden to bring with them any food, 
furniture, or other comforts, and on one occasion the 
Cardinal severely reprimanded a person of his suite 
who had brought with him a metal spoon, disliking 
the wooden ones in use among the inhabitants of the 
Leventina valley. 

The hottest season of the year was that usually 
chosen for the visitations, in order to reap a spiritual 
harvest in the time commonly spent in inaction and 
repose. In like manner the sultry hours of the mid- 
day siesta were those chosen by St Charles for his 
journeys. He never took more than six horses with 
him in rich parishes, in order to spare expense ; and 
where his hosts were poor, he always defrayed the outlay 
himself, on the plea that it behoved a Bishop to spend 

134 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

his own when he visited the poor of his flock. The 
simplicity he enjoined obviated the necessity for any 
extra beasts of burden, as each member of his suite, 
even though he were a person of quality, carried his 
own baggage with him on his horse. Sometimes, 
however, the Cardinal made use of a second horse to 
carry a couple of cases of books for study, but of this 
we shall have occasion to speak hereafter. The same 
simplicity appeared in his regulations concerning diet. 
He would never suffer more than three dishes to be 
served up. These consisted of fruit, soup, and a dish 
of meat, llore simple yet was his own fare, for when 
the others were helped, he liimself would withdraw to 
partake of bread and water. 

In proportion as the austerity with which he treated 
himself increased, so did the heart of the saint expand 
the more in love to God, in zeal for the embellishment 
of His house, and in liberality towards the poor. 

St. Charles was careful to carry out the outward 
ceremonial of his visitations with befitting dignity and 
devotion. His public entry into a town, solemn con- 
secration of a church, pontifical Mass, and other func- 
tions, were all characterised by solemnity and attention 
to ritual, even in the remote mountain districts, so 
that all could see that the thoughts of the holy Prelate 
were wholly centred in God, and his heart filled with 
a burning desire to give honour to His Divine Majesty 
in all places and circumstances. The people were 
greatly edified by the decorum and solemnity thus 
given to the public worship of God. From increased 
reverence for Him, they were led on to greater venera- 

Visitation of the City and Diocese. 135 

tion for His house and ministers; so that of their 
own accord they received the vicars of St. Charles on 
their visitations with like honours. When the latter 
made their reports to the Cardinal, he was wont to 
warn them acrainst self-gratulation in the words of 
our Divine Lord to His apostles, when they took praise 
to themselves because devils were subject to them, 
saying : " Eejoice not that spirits are subject unto you, 
but rejoice in this, that your names are written in 
heaven."^ So deeply were the people impressed with 
the reverential treatment of holy things by St Charles 
that they were scandalised whenever less reverence 
was shown by other prelates. 

The visitations were conducted as follows. On the 
arrival of the Cardinal the people of the town camo 
out to meet him, and led him in procession to the 
church, where he spent some time in prayer. If it 
were in the morning he then said Mass, preaching 
after the Gospel : if in the evening, he ascended the 
pulpit at once and preached to the people, doing the 
same more than once on the succeeding day. He 
always began with a sermon on visiting a convent, 
school, confraternity, or other religious house. The 
subject of these discourses was always confined to 
the object of the visitation, pointing out its intention 
and importance, and the benefits to be derived from 
it St Charles was in the habit, moreover, of learning 
previously from the parish priest, the particular sins 
and abuses that prevailed ; he then addressed himself 
especially to the denunciation of such evils, as an 

^ St Luke X. 17, 2a 

136 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

experienced physician arranges his remedies according 
to the various maladies of his patients. Most wonder- 
ful were the effects of his preaching, especially of the 
admonitions which he administered in private to the 
more notorious sinners, whom he never failed to con- 
vert to penance and newness of life. 

Another great work of his visitation was the 
administration of the Holy Communion which was 
his constant practice in every place. Priests with 
special faculties for reserved cases of conscience were 
sent on in advance of the Cardinal, to stir up the 
people to confession, and the resident clergy were asked 
to increase their efforts to the same end. This was 
followed by a general Communion on the day of the 
visitation, given by the Cardinal himself. The people 
hastened to receive Communion from the hands of 
their Pastor, some even coming from a distance, and 
following him about from place to place in order to 
have this consolation repeated. The heart of the 
good shepherd rejoiced on these occasions which were 
to him as the gathering in of the lost sheep of the 

Immediately after the general Communion, St. 
Charles administered Confirmation, as he wished it 
to be received fasting, and only after confession, for 
greater reverence to the Sacrament. 

The daily repetition of these labours was fatiguing, 
but the Saint never showed any signs of weariness ; 
neither did he complain of the excessive heat of the 
overcrowded churches, which became at times quite 
intolerable, from the fact that in the mountain dis- 

Visitation of the City and Diocese. 137 

tricts the people brought into the church the smell 
of the cattle that herded with them in their dwellings. 
The attendants of the Cardinal were often compelled 
to go out of the church at intervals, for the sake of 
breathing the fresh air for a few moments. But the 
servant of God persevered without ever flagging: his 
love for God and zeal for souls far outweighed any 
physical inconvenience. 

But more laborious even than these labours was 
the work of consecrating churches and altars. The 
deplorable and ruinous condition of most of the 
churches in his diocese, called for their restoration, 
which in some instances was so complete that the 
church had to be reconsecrated. On one occasion it 
was observed that the Cardinal during eighteen days 
of visitation had gone through fourteen consecrations. 
But it was not the number of churches consecrated 
so much as the austerity of the preparation he made 
for their consecration that was remarkable. He fasted 
on bread and water the day preceding, and spent the 
night in watching before the holy relics on the altar. 
The actual ceremony occupied eight hours, including 
the High Mass, the sermon, and administration of the 
Sacraments. Bells, chalices, and other sacred things 
were often blessed at the same time, the whole cere- 
mony often lasting till past mid-day. This stress 
of work never made him less exact in the rest of 
his visitation, — of the Blessed Sacrament, sacred 
relics, holy oils, the altars, the condition of the clergy, 
the state of other churches in the district, and all 
the matters belonging to the visitation of a Bishop. 

138 Life of St. Charles Borrotneo. 

On concluding the visitation of one district, the 
Cardinal would retire to some quiet place where he 
could carry out and communicate to his clergj the 
directions suggested to him in its course. He con- 
ferred with them in general, giving his orders for 
reforms ; and he also conferred with each priest pri- 
vately, admonishing or advising each one according 
to his particular needs, of which he had previously 
taken care to be duly informed. It was his practice 
to make the time of these gatherings correspond with 
the usual monthly meeting of the clergy of each dis- 
trict, that more life and interest might be infused into 
the ordinary routine by his presence. 

It would sometimes happen that during the absence 
of St Charles on a visitation, he had to return to his 
cathedral to hold an ordination or keep some festival 
day. On such occasions the Cardinal never failed to 
attend, returning, when the ceremony was over, to the 
place of his visitation. 

These outward results were not the only fruit 
of the zeal of St. Charles at these times. He 
was accustomed to use his influence in putting an 
end to feuds among the people, and efiFecting a 
reconciliation. He restored religious worship by 
reclaiming alienated possessions of the Church, and 
rousing the clergy to greater diligence in their ministry, 
and their flocks to a deeper sense of the reverence 
they owed their pastors. He upheld ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction, and brought sinners to repentance, en- 
forced the due fulfilment of pious bequests, erected 
new parochial churches, united benefices, transferred 

Visit at ion of the City and Diocese. 139 

convents and other titular churches to more convenient 
situations, and put an end to numbers of abuses. His 
great consolation in these works was the opportunity 
given him of becoming acquainted with all the sheep 
of his fold, in order that he might bind up the wounds 
of their souls, feed them with the Bread of Heaven, 
and provide even for their temporal necessities with 
the tenderness of a father. Besides the general state- 
ment of the souls in each parish which was sent to 
him yearly, he was in the habit of noting in a book 
entitled " Tlu temporal needs of such and such 
a district!' the names of those who were in danger 
of committing sin through poverty, in order to help 
them if possible, of those who were living in a state 
of sin that he might restore them, and of the perverse 
and impenitent that he might correct them. "When 
the time of his visitation came round, he would then 
make diligent inquiry about their cases, and would 
not lose sight of such souls until he had placed them 
out of danger. 

During the first years of his episcopate, the Cardinal 
made his visitations on horseback, but afterwards his 
fervour inspired him to travel on foot after the 
example of our Divine Lord and His apostles. He 
commenced this practice on the occasion of his visit 
to the parish of Vimercato, but was obliged to desist 
through an attack of lameness. Edifying indeed was 
the sight of the Cardinal walking from place to 
place, followed by his loving people, who accompanied 
him from devotion as if he were a new apostle of the 

I40 Life of St. Charles Barrameo. 

St. Charles was equally watchful over the visitations 
of his vicars. He had an exact account of all that 
thej did, taking care that thej were continually 
employed in the duties that devolved upon them ; and 
encouraged them with every possible counsel and 
assistance. It may indeed be said that the Church 
of Milan was thus subjected to a perpetual visitation. 
When the untiring self-devotion of the saint is 
considered, the wonderful transformation which he 
wrought appears as the natural consequence of such 
zeal. He made the wilderness to blossom as a rose, 
and the uncultivated field to bloom as a garden 
bringing forth all manner of fruits and flowers. 

P. 137 — *' The work of consecrating churches.*' 

F. PoiMvin in hit life of the taint recordt th&t three hundred ehnrchet 
and &lt&n were coDteorated by him. It wat taid that there was hardly 
a ehui-oh in the diocete which had not been either rebailt, repaired ur 
adorned in gome way by him. 

( 141 ) 



St. Charles commenced liis visitation with that of 
his Metropolitan Church of Milan, as the first in order 
of importance. Many reforms were found necessary, 
which he effected in course of time. As the object of 
his special solicitude, he saw that his cathedral would 
be a model to all the cliief churches of his province, 
on account of the devotion of the Chapter to his least 

Many beneficed clergy of different ranks comprised 
the Chapter. There were first the Ordinary Canons, 
having the privilege of wearing the red or purple cape 
according to the season, like the Cardinals at Home. 
Besides these there were notaries, and those known by 
the name of Decumani and Mazzaconici,^ who wore the 
black cape ; lectors and obedientiaries, who were accus- 
tomed to attend the Canons at ecclesiastical func- 
tions. There were also various custodians, with their 
chief ofi&cer called Cimiliarca} Notwithstanding this 
numerous body of clergy, the Church was badly served, 

^ i.e.. Minor Cuioni. Vid. Da Casgo. 

142 Life of St. Charles B or rotneo. 

But few remained ia residence, and the decorum of the 
divine worship was much neglected. One reason for 
this was that some of the Canons held other benefices 
in which they resided, while others held two Canon- 
ries in the same church, as the offices of " decuman " 
and " obedientiary " were posts of but little emolu- 
ment, and, indeed, the income of the canonries them- 
selves was smalL There was often found no one 
to sing the offices of the Church, which all fell into 
disuse with the exception of Terce, Mass, and Vespers : 
even for these it was usually found necessary to liire 
an extra chaplain. Slaiiy other abuses had sprung up 
in consequence of wars and calamitous times. On his 
first visitation the Cardinal discerned both the evils 
and their remedies, and had indeed recognised in the 
lifetime of his uncle Pius IV. that the slender stipend 
allotted to the Canons in residence gave rise to 
abuses. He had then obtained that an annual sum 
of twelve hundred crowns should be assigned to them 
from the revenue of the Abbey of Miramonte. Other 
sums were in like manner procured by the Cardinal, 
who received from the Holy See authorization to pre- 
scribe statutes and rules for securing regular residence. 
He suppressed certain canonries, and amalgamated their 
incomes with the general fund, so that the endowments 
of all were considerably increased. 

He then required the Canons to resign other bene- 
fices which were incompatible with residence, and laid 
down rules for the Chapter, by authority of the Holy 
See, binding them to constant residence, and to unite 
in reciting all the Canonical hours in choir under pain 

Reforms in the Cathedral Chapter. 143 

of losing their share in the distribution. To this was 
' added the obligation, which had long fallen into abey- 
ance, of saying the Office of Our Lady in common 
on the days and times prescribed by the general 
rubrics, and by particular decrees. To strengthen 
these rules, the Cardinal ordered that the Archbishop 
for the time being should nominate another Punctator 
besides the one chosen by the Chapter, to take note of 
those absent from choir, and also of all personal fail- 
ings in the recitation of the Divine office. In con- 
formity with the recomnieudatiou of the Council of 
Trent, the canonical prebends were divided into the 
three orders of priests, deacons, and subdeacons, to 
whom were assigned according to their rank, distinct 
places in choir and in processions, and such like occa- 
sions. In pursuance of the same recommendations, 
two prebends were founded, one for a canon theologian 
to which was attached the duty of instructing the 
people in the truths of faith on festivals ; and on the 
two last days in the week of delivering a lecture to the 
clergy on some theological subject in the arcliiepiscopal 
chapel. The second for a canon penitentiary, who 
had four coadjutors, or minor penitentiaries, with 
faculties for reserved cases. St Charles assigned 
separate stipends to these offices, intending afterwards 
to give them a more definite form. In the meantime, 
the penitentiaries were required to attend at the 
cathedral to hear confession, and they were also called 
upon to meet together with other doctors and canonists, 
to consult upon cases of conscience which had arisen 
in the course of the week throughout the whole pro- 

144 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

vince. This was called the Congregation of the Peni- 
tentiary, and it proved of great benefit to confessors. 
He instituted also a third prebend, which he called 
doctoral, with the obligation attached to it of reading 
canon law to the clergy at least twice a week in the 
archiepiscopal chapeL All these different foundations 
proved of importance, and great good was wrought by 
their means throughout the diocese. 

The Archbishop had greatly at heart the due cele- 
bration of Divine worship with the dignity and decorum 
prescribed in the Church. He was most solicitous 
that the most minute rites and ceremonies should be 
strictly observed ; and to this end he appointed a 
master of ce.emonies with an assistant to be present 
in the choir during the Divine Office. These officers 
were resident, having their share in the emoluments of 
residence, and their own prebends. In course of time 
it became evident that there were not a sufficient 
number of subordinate officers for the requirements of 
the church. St. Charles therefore substituted a college 
of twelve doorkeepers, or custodians, who were ap- 
pointed to serve under a sacristan, for the inferior 
offices of the choir. Their duties were to preserve 
decorum in the church, and prevent talking therein, 
to open and shut the doors, and watch over the sepa- 
ration of the sexes in church. They were also to ring 
the bells, for the Cardinal would not have any part of 
the service of the Church, however small, done by a 
layman. The duties of these custodians were sub- 
stantially those of the minor orders of the clergy, save 
that they served the High Altar alone. Two priests 

Reforms in the Cathedral Chapter^ 145 

were appointed sacristans, with separate sacristies and 
distinct functions. To the first belonged the care of 
the silver vessels and all the fumitore of the high 
altar. The second had charge of the other sacristy 
containing the furniture and ornaments of the minor 
altars, and he also had the regulation of the private 
masses which were to be said at the hours most con- 
venient to the people, according to the order published 
by the prefect of the choir each week. 

The attention of the Cardinal was also given to the 
musical arrangements of the church. He increased 
the number of musicians, dividing the best singers 
into difiFerent choirs, and allowing them suflScient 
stipends. He ordered all the music to be of a devout 
and ecclesiastical character, and that due effect should 
be given to the words so that they might be perfectly 
understood. He intended thereby that his people 
should be incited to devotion by the music rather than 
to mere admiration. This made him prohibit the use 
of all instruments employed in secular music, retaining 
the organ alone. This order was established by a 
decree of the Council, so as to make it binding 
throughout the province. And as the cantors were to 
be ecclesiastics, he dismissed all seculars, and retained 
only clerics of good character. He made it a rule 
also that they should always wear cottas in church, 
deeming it fitting that the ministers of the altar should 
be vested in the outward symbol of the purity that 
should be their distinctive characteristic. Hearini; 
that some of the beneficed clergy belonging to the 
cathedral were wont to join with the singers of the 


146 Life of SL CliarUs Barromeo. 

church, he forbade the practice, in order that they ahould 
not be absent from their places in choir. 

The reform thus wrought by St Charles in the cele- 
bration of divine worship, had its efifect upon his people. 
They now flocked to the services of the church, for 
their devotion to the worship of God rose in proportion 
as they saw it worthily celebrated. 

Ever eager to do good to souls, the holy Cardinal 
took advantage of their presence in such numbers to 
instruct them in Christian doctrine. He ordered that 
a sermon should be preached after the Gospel when- 
ever there was High Mass, aud also in the afternoon 
after Vespers, by preachers of special learning and 
holiness, in order to win souls to a knowledge of the 
truth, and to the practice of virtue. To these were 
added frequeat processions and other spiritual exer- 
cises, litanies sung to music, and the like. By these 
means he hoped to keep the people occupied with 
holy things on festivals of the Church, and so to with- 
draw them from theatres and such like profane amuse- 
ments. His efiforts were crowned with success. The 
cathedral, lately so deserted, was now served with 
becoming splendour, and the services conducted with 
devotion. A great spirit of fervour manifested itself 
among the people, and it was not unusual for some to 
remain in the Church during the whole of a Feast Day, 
leaving it only at the dinner hour. The crowd of 
devout worshippers was so great that it was necessary, 
in order to obtain a seat, to be in good time for any 
service ; although the church was one of the largest in 
Europe. Such dispositions in his flock could not but 

Reforms in the Cathedral C/tapter. 147 

fill with joy the heart of the good Shepherd, and he 
was ever adding fresh incitements to devotion in order 
to stimulate their appetite for the services of the 

His own example was not the least attraction in 
itself. When the people saw their pastor assisting 
with angelic fer\'our at the services, they were so filled 
with devotion, that they found it difficult to tear them- 
selves away from the church in order to attend to 
their temporal affairs. 

The Cardinal had an apartment prepared for himself 
in the Canons* house, with a passage from his own 
residence, so that he was enabled to juin the Canons in 
their Matins at break of day, and thus satisfy his 
desire to be in choir. He was wont to tell his Canons 
that it was his delimit to be with them. 

( 148 ) 



"Whilst thus occupied in perfecting the spiritual beauty 
of his Church and its offices, St. Charles was by no 
means unmindful of the claims that the material struc- 
ture had on his attention. It was one of the finest 
religious edifices in Europe, both from its size, its bold 
and magnificent design, as from the marbles and sculp- 
tures which adorned it. Large sums in the course of 
years were expended on its maintenance, and a council 
of administration was found necessary, called the 
Chapter of the fabric of the cathedral, consisting of the 
Archbishop, his Vicar-General, three Canons in ordi- 
nary, and a procurator, three collegiate doctors, and 
twelve knights who were attached to the Church, and 
wore the short mantle. The duty of this Chapter was 
to take due care of the repairs of the cathedral. 

Before the time of St. Charles, the subject of Divine 
worship was little understood by the people, and more 
attention was paid to worldly pomp and vain show 
than to the service of God, its true End. Thus while 
without this magnificent temple was adorned with 
beautifully chiselled statues, it was like any secular 

The Cathedral or Duomo of Milan. 1 49 

building within, hardly retaining the fonn or propor- 
tions of a church. There was no choir, no chapels, 
and but very few altars, all totally neglected. In place 
of devotional pictures and images of saints, the whole 
interior was encumbered with pompous monuments of 
the nobles and dukes of Milan, ostentatiously placed, 
and the walls were hung round with banners display- 
ing the arms of the principal families of the city, so 
that the Cathedral bore the appearance of a public 
exhibition rather than that of a House of God. Worse 
still, as two doors on opposite sides of the sacred 
building afforded a convenient passage from one street 
to another, it became the custom for the people to pass 
through with their merchandise, and even their beasts 
of burden, to the dishonour and desecration of the 
House of God. 

The saint, filled as he was with zeal for the glory of 
God, could not witness these profanations without grief 
and indignation. He resolved to put an end to them 
at once, and to restore the interior of the cathedral to 
simplicity and beauty. In accordance with a decree 
of the Council of Trent, he swept away all the trophies 
of worldly pomp which filled the Church. Although 
by the decree monuments of stone and metal were 
allowed, he would not spare even the bronze monu- 
ment of his uncle, the Marquis of Melegnano, brother 
of the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IV., but put it away as 
an example ,to others. He had the choir arranged en- 
tirely afresh, according to his own design and judgment, 
which was very good in architectural matters. He 
raised the high altar so as to be visible to all the 

150 Life of St. CJiarles Borromeo. 

people. It had been consecrated by Pope Martin Y., 
and under it reposed eleven bodies of the Holy 
Innocents. He had it surrounded bj the seats for the 
choir in three degrees, the highest being for the 
Canons. Upon these was sculptured in relief the life 
of St. Ambrose, Doctor, and Patron of the Church and 
city of Milan. 

The seats of the second rank were for the clergy 
who held other benefices or offices in the cathedral. 
The third row of seats was assigned to the clerics of 
the seminary. The archiepiscopal throne occupied its 
proper place, raised upon several steps, and was richly 
decorated. This first part of the choir was enclosed by 
a balustrade of marble. 

The Cardinal forbade any layman, however exalted 
in position, to assist at the Divine Office in this part of 
the sanctuary, which was railed off, and set apart solely 
for the ministers of the altar. In this he imitated his 
predecessor, St Ambrose, who, for the same reason, 
shut the gates of this very choir against the intrusion 
of the Emperor Theodosius. Neither would he permit 
any ecclesiastic to take his place there unless vested in 
a cotta, as was befitting the reverence due to the holy 

He had another portion of the church below the choir 
railed off, and furnished with raised seats for laymea 
of high station, magistrates and nobles. This he did 
advisedly, deeming it right that magistrates and 
persons in authority should occupy a more elevated 
and conspicuous situation than others. A proper seat 
was set apart in this place for the Governor of the 

Tlu Catludral or Duomo of Milan. 151 

citj. The two organs were brought into the choir, as 
great inconvenience had arisen from their being at a 
distance, and seats were arranged beneath them for the 

Two pulpits were placed against the last pillars of 
the choir, facing the people. Thej were of beautiful 
design, gilded and adorned with sculptures. Each was 
supported upon four figures wrought in bronze; that 
on the right-hand side having the emblems of the four 
Evangelists, while the other was upheld by the four 
Doctors of the Church. The new position enabled 
both clergy and people to hear sermons without leaving 
their places. One was set apart for the exclusive use 
of the Archbishop, as a token that preaching was a 
part of his pastoral oflSce, and worthy of a special place 
and prominence. 

When the restoration of the choir was complete, the 
Cardinal turned his attention to the part of the church 
immediately below it, called the "Scurolo" or Con- 
fession. He restored the ornaments in stucco, and 
erected an altar in the midst, with bodies of saints and 
other relics, which he had collected from different 
places. Eound it were seats for the accommodation of 
the Canons when reciting their Matins in winter. He 
obtained for this altar the same privilege as was en- 
joyed by the altar of St Gregory at Eome, namely, 
that of liberating a soul from Purgatory at each Mass 
that was said there. It became an object of great 
devotion to the people, who were drawn thither by 
the example of their Archbishop, who frequently said 
Mass there^ and spent hours of prayer at the shrine. 

152 V Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

The next care of the Archbishop was the arrange- 
ment of the other altars and chapels throughout the 
church in the beauty and order in which we now see 
them. Each altar was surmounted by a lofty canopy, 
out of reverence for the sacred mysteries there 
celebrated, and was protected with iron railings from 
too near approach, in accordance with conciliar decrees 
afterwards made. The two side doors of which 
we have spoken were walled up, and two additional 
altars erected in their place, dedicated, one to Our 
Lady " of the tree," over which was placed the picture 
of the Annunciation from Florence, which had been 
given to the Cardinal by Francesco de Medici, Grand 
Duke of Tuscany ; the other altar possessed the sacred 
relics of St. John Buono, Archbishop of Milan. 
These altars in the part formerly so desecrated are 
now objects of great devotion with the people. 

To show his desire that the administration of the 
Sacraments should have especial honour in his church, 
St. Charles had a magnificent baptistery erected near 
the principal entrance. The font of porphyry was 
placed under a cupola supported upon four marble 
pillars, and surrounded by an ornamental railing. 
In ancient times it had been customary for the Arch- 
bishop himself to baptize at stated times. This 
custom was revived by the saint who, twice a year, 
on the vigils of Easter and Pentecost, administered 
Baptism with his own hands. This baptistery was 
only provisional, as the Cardinal intended to erect a 
chapel outside the church exclusively for the adminis- 
tration of the Sacrament of regeneration. 

The Cathedral or Dtiomo of Milan. 153 

The way from the Archbishop's house to the cathe- 
dral was most inconvenient, as it lay through the public 
streets. When St. Charles erected the Canons' lodging, 
he made a way of communication by a subterranean 
passage which enabled the Archbishop and Chapter to 
go under cover to the church at all hours. 

The burial place for the Archbishop and Canons was 
marked out at the foot of the first tier of steps leading 
up to the choir. That for priests was on the right, 
the deacons and sub-deacons on the left, and the Arch- 
bishop in the centre. But his intention was not 
fulfilled, for he was the first himself to die, and the 
ground where he was laid was deemed too sacred to 
be the resting-place of any other, for it was at once 
venerated as the glorious shrine of a saint of God. 

To leave no part of his work incomplete, St. Charles 
provided that every altar should have a sufficiency of 
sacred vessels, and other furniture required for Mass 
and other offices, and spared no expense in order that 
everything might correspond with the dignity of the 

He then arranged the body of the cathedral more 
according to the canons, and to guard against dis- 
tractions during the services, fixed a strong wooden 
screen in the nave for the separation of the men from 
the women. 

Finally, that the irregularities in administering the 
funds for repairs might not recur, he made rules for 
the future disposition of these funds, apportioning 
them according to the ascertained cost of the main- 
tenance of each part of the fabric. 

154 Life of St. C/iarles Borromeo. 

Thus little by little, did the church assume an 
entirely new aspect The majesty with which the 
services were conducted attracted the faithful; and 
what was of infinitely greater importance, their hearts 
were drawn thereby to the love of God and heavenly 

( iss ) 




Having thus restored order in Im cathedral, the Car- 
dinal with fatiierly solicitude, turned his attention to 
the other churches of Milan. After enforcing resi- 
dence in the collegiate churches, he found it neces- 
sary to suppress some poor benefices, or to unite them 
to others, closing some of the parochial churches, and 
affiliating the parish to some other church better 
situated for the convenience of the people, and the 
necessary maintenance of the clergy. The income of 
the latter was augmented in some poor parishes by 
grants from the revenues of the Abbey of Mira- 
monte, already largely drawn upon for the needs 
of the cathedral Chapter. By these means he made 
provision for the residence of the clergy in their 

During his visitation of the collegiate and parochial 
churches, he did not overlook the various confraterni- 
ties, and the societies of penitents. Among these latter 
abuses and neglect of discipline had to be set in order. 

156 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

and their constitutions and management to be better 

Pious societies of laymen were instituted in some 
churches, and especially in those which had no cure 
of souls. To these confraternities, St. Charles gave 
excellent rules to enable the members to make pro- 
gress in virtue. They were distinguished from the 
penitents by a habit of different colour, and their 
edifying lives soon drew many others to follow them 
in the paths of benevolence and well-doing. A work 
he had much at heart was the confraternity of St 
John the Beheaded, the members of which accom- 
panied criminals to tlie place of execution, and remained 
with them to the last. Many nobles and chief men of 
the city were persuaded by St. Charles to join this work 
of charity, and, before long, officers of state and the 
Governor himself applied to have their names inscribed 
among the brethren. Men who wasted their time be- 
fore were now to be seen engaged in these labours of 
mercy, and spared no efforts in order to dispose ^the 
poor criminals to receive the Sacraments worthily, and 
to make a good end To secure time for their minis- 
trations, it was ordered that two days should always 
elapse between the passing of a capital sentence and 
its execution. As soon as a prisoner was condemned 
to death he was taken to the Oratory of the prison, 
where the brethren of the confraternity announced his 
fate to him, exhorting him to accept it with patience 
and submission, for the love of God, and in penance for 
his crimes. In consequence of these regulations, no 
criminal is now executed on the day on which he 

Reforms in other Churches of the City, 157 

received Holy Communion; and as soon as sentence 
is passed, he is given into the care of a priest of the 
society, or some other confessor, who makes it his 
duty to prepare him for the Sacraments of Confession 
and Communion. The whole confraternity also attend 
up to the last moments of the condemned, who is as- 
sisted and encouraged by the presence and prayers of 
these good persons. 

The singing of the Litanies on the Eogation days was 
observed by the Church of Milan. But as the three 
days' fast, according to the institution of St. Mamertus, 
Bishop of Vienne in France, had been adopted here, the 
Ambrosian Eite transferred the time of reciting the 
Litanies to the week after Ascension, so as not to in- 
fringe upon the custom of not fasting during the Forty 
Days of Eastertide. But unhappily this observance had 
been so abused, that it had become rather an occasion 
of offending God than of drawing down His mercy. 
The fast had been long omitted, and debauchery and 
excess prevailed instead. The procession had lost its 
religious and devotional character, and only presented 
a scene of confusion and disorder. St. Charles was 
deeply grieved at these scandals, and took measures 
to put an end to the abuse by ordering the strict 
observance of the prescribed fast, and requiring the 
clergy to assemble at break of day in the great 
church, where ashes were put upon their heads by 
the Archbishop. The procession was then celebrated 
in a spirit of penitence, and of devout preparation for 
the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. 

The presence of their Archbishop inspired the people 

158 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

with so lively a sense of religion, that there was hence- 
forth a complete absence of former excesses. 

The fast was observed, and the people followed in 
the procession with every mark of devout recollection, 
in the garb of penitents, and with books or rosaries in 
their hands. 

St Charles himself on these three days took only 
bread and water, although it was his habit to preach 
after High llass in the cathedral on each day. Not- 
withstanding the early hour, and the inconvenience 
from the crowding of the people, he was in the church 
with the Canons at daybreak to say JIass, after which 
came the distribution of ashes, followed by the proces- 
sion, which often lasted till one or two o'clock in the 
day. The clergy were all bound to attend the pro- 
cession unless lawfully hindered, and the Cardinal used 
to wait to see them pass by, two and two. 

Another abuse of not less importance had long pre- 
vailed among the people through the laxity of former 
prelates. It was an ancient custom in the city for 
public oblations to be made from the six regions into 
which it was divided towards the expenses of the 
fabric of the cathedral on the six Sundays after Pente- 
cost. This had been suffered to degenerate into a kind 
of afternoon burlesque, attracting crowds of idlers, who 
came to it as to some profane spectacle. It were out 
of place to narrate all the desecration of the holy 
house of God that took place on these occasions. The 
pruning hand of St. Charles found means to eradicate 
these abuses as he had done so many others. In the 
first place, he had the oblations brought in the mom- 

jRefortns in other Churches of the City. 159 

ing during the High Mass instead of in the afternoon 
as formerly. The people were required to come in 
procession, preceded by the clergy of each district in 
cassock and cotta, the great banner of the town, with 
the figure of St Ambrose, being borne in front. These 
regulations have been strictly observed ever since, so 
that the oblations are now made with due piety and 

When all was brought into order in the city, St 
Charles in this same year, 1566, made a visitation 
of other parts of the diocese, in which his labours 
caused him much bodily suffering, while the sad state 
of religion inflicted grief of mind. The burning fire 
of zeal which consumed him, soon, however, worked 
wonders in a short space of time. Sinners were con- 
verted to God, discipline was restored among the 
clergy and the churches rendered more worthy of the 
presence of God 

Bepeating over again the same measures of reform 
he had carried out in Milan, the Archbishop enforced 
the residence of Canons, and united foundations in 
thinly-populated districts, so as to make one efficient 
body, or transferred them from scattered and deserted 
parts to the large towns. 

Thus, from Castel Seprio, situated amid dense woods, 
he translated a college of Canons to the town of Car- 
nage ; also, from Olgiato Olona, a place of little im- 
portance, to Busto Arsizio: again £rom Gagliano to 
Canti\, and another from the village of Castello to 

At Abbiategrasso he founded a collegiate church, 

i6o Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

and united others to it. He arranged for the support 
of the Canons, either by increasing their scanty revenues 
from ecclesiastical benefices which he suppressed, or by 
giving them the third part of the revenues of the 
prebendaries, as is permitted by the Council of Trent 
He ordered all to observe residence, punishing those 
that were refractory by depriving them of their 
canonries. All who held more than one preferment 
were required by his decrees to retain one only. In 
some cases he was met by the exhibition of a faculty 
to hold both, which had been obtained from the Holy 
See, but his persuasions and forcible reasoning never 
failed to obtain a voluntary resignation. 

He proceeded in the same way also with the 
parochial churches, obliging the parish priests to reside 
on their cure, and to live at the presbytery. In places 
where there were no presbyteries, or such as could not 
be occupied, the Archbishop obtained contributions 
from the flocks to repair the buildings, and in some 
cases to build fresh houses. He did the same for the 
residence of the Canons, for he was determined to 
leave his clergy no excuse for associating with lay 
people, nor for absenting themselves from their duties. 
Where the emolument received by a priest was insuf- 
ficient, and there was no means of increasing it by the 
application of Church property, he called upon the 
people to come forward and enable their pastor to live 
in a manner befitting his sacred calling. 

Property belonging to the Church was in many 
cases in the hands of laymen. This St. Charles 
required them to give up, prevailing upon them to 

Reforms in other Churches of t/ie City. 1 6 1 

resign titles and other ecclesiastical revenues which 
they had in their possession in contravention of the 
decrees of the Council and applying them to the Church, 
to which they of right belonged. Thus was the resi- 
dence of the clergy enforced everywhere, so that there 
was scarcely any parish, even in the remote and inac- 
cessible districts, which had not its church and priest 
Many new parishes were formed and assistants granted 
to those clergy who were overworked. 

A corresponding improvement resulted in the life 
and manners of the people, with a deeper appreciation 
of the things of God. The practice of preaching to the 
people and instnicting them in the Word of God was 
earnestly inculcated by the saint, together with the 
frequent administration of the Sacraments, and the 
observance of all the solemnities and ceremonial of the 
worship of God. He was indefatigable in stirring up 
the clergy to greater zeal, and he strove to enkindle in 
their hearts the burning charity that filled his own 
soul. He was constantly exhorting them to give due 
effect to the decrees of the Council of Trent and the 
provincial synods. All these labours were blessed with 
great success ; the people grew daily in veneration for 
the things of God, and in reverence for their good 
pastor and for all his wishes in their regard. 

During his visit to Besozzo, which is about forty 
mUes from the city, St Charles learnt that the relics of 
St. Nicus were somewhere in the neighbourhood, and 
that a chapel dedicated in his honour was held in 
great veneration by the surrounding peasantry. The 
feast of St Nicus was always celebrated with great 


1 6 2 Life of SL Charles Borrameo. 

solemnity on the 1 8th ApriL The saint's body was 
found in a stone coffin under the altar. These sacred 
remains were reverently gathered up and deposited 
in a shrine, placed under the altar of the chapel, 
which was fittingly restored. To ensure its being 
taken care of, St. Cliarles instituted a society of pious 
men under the title of Penitents, giving them a rule 
and certain religious exercises in order to keep up the 
chapel. By their devotion it has been enlarged, and 
at tills time has become a considerable church. 

( i63 ) 





During his visitation St. Charles took especial note of 
the private lives of the clergj' and people. He found 
the laity sunk in abuses of every kind, men living 
openly in concubinage and adultery, and thus giving 
great public scandal. He resolved, if possible, to 
change this state of things for the better, looking upon 
these sins as offences against the sanctity of God rather 
^than as mere social evils. To this end he made use at 
first of the power of the Word of God, trying to draw 
sinners to repentance by remonstrance and warnings. 
But the evil was too deeply engrained, and too openly 
and persistently indulged, to yield to these measures. 
He was therefore obliged to resort to the courts of 
justice he had lately established, and to exercise his 
jurisdiction by committing to prison some of the more 
flagrant and obdurate offenders. This proceeding 
occasioned great excitement among the people, par- 
ticularly among the rich, and the question was 
clamorously raised whether he was not trenching on 
the jurisdiction of the Crown. The long years of 

164 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

party faction and civil commotion through which the 
State had passed, together with the absence of the' 
Archbishop from his see, had caused the authoritj of 
the Church in such matters to be forgotten, so that it 
was now looked upon as an unbearable restraint upon 
the liberties of the upper classes. 

Some of the royal officials even considered that it 
was incumbent on them to protect the subjects of his 
Catholic Majesty against the lawful jurisdiction of 
the Archbishop. Herein they were instigated by the 
devil, who, envious of the good done to souls, sought 
by all the means in his power, to impede the work of 
reform. With a great show of zeal for the prerogatives 
of their royal master, these men set themselves with 
all their might against the enactments of the Cardinal. 
They did not dare to issue any public mandate or edict 
of contravention in regular form, on account of the 
authority he wielded and the universal esteem in which 
he was held for his holiness of life. But they inti- 
mated to the officers of the Cardinal that they would 
incur severe penalties if they imprisoned any more 
laymen, or carried arms, which was forbidden by order 
of the Governor, adding that they would not suflfer the 
least infringement of the royal rights. These doings 
being reported to the Cardinal, he recommended the 
whole matter to God in his prayers, and, according 
to the advice of men of experience, laid the matter 
before the Sovereign Pontiff, undertaking to accept 
whatever decision the Pope might make, in the hope 
that the opposing faction would do the same. 

Meanwhile he tried by persuasion to bring his op- 

opposition made to his Jurisdiction. 165 

ponents to an amicable settlement of the dispute. 
Finding, however, that they had appealed to the King, 
he felt bound to inform his Majesty of the reasons 
which had actuated him, viz., that the honour of God 
and the salvation of souls were his sole motives, and 
that he had but fulfilled the obligations of his office. 
To this the King replied in courteous terms, that the 
matter belonged entirely to the jurisdiction of the 
Supreme Pontiff, and that he would abide by the 
decision of the Holy See. This resolution he repeated 
to the Governor, desiring him not to encroach upon 
the rights of the Cliurch whilst upholding the preroga- 
tives of the Crown. 

To the Pope, therefore, the matter was referred, and 
Giovanni Paolo Chiesa,^ a senator of Milan, was deputed 
to represent the King. The Holy Father delegated 
certain Cardinals and learned Doctors to examine into 
the matter, and wrote to St Charles to maintain 
possession of his rights until judgment should be 

The Cardinals entered at great length into the 
question, and as the case appeared likely to last a 
considerable time, Monsignor Chiesa applied for per- 
mission to return to Milan. It was granted, and the 
Pope entrusted him with two Briefs to the Cardinal 
and the Governor, exhorting them to watch carefully 
and religiously over the rights of the ChurcL 

The following is the Brief addressed to the Senate : — 

> Born at Tortooa 1521, a learned jariii, and long a practUing lawjer, 
he attracted the notice of St Pius V., and was made Apoetolic Pro- 
tonotarx, and in 1568 CardinaL Ho died 9U1 January 1575. 

1 66 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

PitLS V. to the Seriate of Milan, 

" Beloved children, — ^We have gladly availed our- 
selves of the return to Milan of your colleague, Gio- 
vanni Paolo Chiesa, to render our testimony to his 
diligence in your business, which, from its importance, 
cannot be speedily concluded. We will take care 
that it shall not occupy more time than necessity de- 
mands, but both sides must be maturely weighed. 
Meanwhile, we call upon you in the Lord, with all 
affection to uphold your Archbishop and the Bishops 
of the Province, and to assist them in the fulfilment of 
their pastoral office ; for nothing tends more to establish 
the credit of the secular power than the security and 
dignity of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Whatever adds 
to the stability and vigour of the spiritual power 
strengthens the secular government ; and the reverence 
and submission paid by princes and magistrates to 
ecclesiastical superiors wins the loyalty of subjects, so 
that it cannot be denied that ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
is the only firm foundation of states. Would to God 
that this truth were not daily proved by examples 
of the sad consequences resulting from the opposite 
policy. But your predecessors have not been wanting 
in their duty ; on the contrary, their pious example 
has stirred up other cities and provinces to imitate 

" We are moved by the paternal affection we bear 
you to encourage you to uphold with all your might 
the sacred jurisdiction of the Church ; to the end that 
your pastors may take heart, and render to the Lord 

opposition made to his Jurisdiction. 167 

more abundant fruits of their labours in the harvest of 
His flock." 

This pontifical Brief was received with due honour 
both by Governor and Senate. It was hoped that 
matters might now be arranged satisfactorily, but un- 
fortunately such was not the case. Some of the royal 
agents, making great account of the fact that they 
were in possession of authority, determined to put 
down the ecclesiastical court, and keep power in their 
own hands. All, however, were not unanimous in so 
novel a proceeding. Tliere were many who would 
have been content to await the decision of Eonie now 
that the appeal had been made; but the latter were 
not numerous enough to consider themselves safe in 
opposing such a delicate matter as the defence of royal 
prerogatives. Hesitation would be thought to savour of 
treason. The result was an order to Greorgio Visconti, 
the Captain of Justice, to imprison the Bargello, or 
sheriff, of the Archbishop, on the charge of having 
borne arms contrary to the royal edict It was hoped 
that this would suffice to render the person of any lay- 
man inviolate. The order was carried out in all haste. 
The unlucky sheriff was hung up thrice in the public 
square, and then driven out of the city under penalty 
of being sent to the galleys if he returned. 

This occurrence was a fresh sorrow to the heart of 
the Cardinal. He beheld his authority disregarded, the 
sovereignty of the Apostolic See set at nought, and 
new impediments in the way of his reform. Nor was 
this alL Those very persons who should have 

1 68 Life of St. C/iarles Borromeo. 

seconded bis exertions in the service of God, rose up 
against him, and endangered the salvation of their 
own souls. His faith, however, never wavered, for he 
trusted in God and in the goodness of his cause, and 
was supported by the opinions of men of piety and 
learning, well versed in canon and civil law. Filled 
with zeal which would have led him, if need were, to 
martyrdom in defence of the liberties of Holy Church, 
and strong in the conviction that he was actuated 
solely by his pastoral duty, the Archbishop pro- 
nounced sentence of excommunication ai^ainst the 
captain of justice, the royal attorney-general, a notary, 
and the governor of the prison where his sherift' had 
been detained, as aiders and abettors. Without delay 
this sentence was published throughout the city, and 
a citation was affixed to the door of the Senate-house, 
calling upon the President and senators to show cause 
why the sentence should not be carried out. 

The Duke of Albuquerque, the Governor, was 
much annoyed at the punishment inflicted on the 
sheriff, entirely without his cognisance. He was re- 
ligiously inclined himself, and he was likewise well 
acquainted with the good dispositions of his royal 
master, who always respected the rights of the Church. 
His pious indignation at the occurrence was testified 
by his imprisonment of certain bailiffs who had taken 
upon themselves to tear down the notices which had 
been posted at the Archbishop's house, and at the 
churches. He also refused to admit into his presence 
a judge who had sent an ecclesiastic to prison because 
copies of the Cardinal's citation were found upon him. 

opposition made to his Jurisdiction. 169 

The Senate denied that they had issued any order 
for the punishment of a sheriff of the Archbishop's 
tribunal, affirming that he had been punished as a 
transgressor of the royal proclamation, and that they 
were not aware that he was an officer of the Arch- 
bishop's tribunal. While making the same excuse to 
the Sovereign Pontiff, they laid the blame of the dis- 
turbance upon the Cardinal The Holy Father was 
greatly displeased at the whole affair, and still more 
by the letter of the Senate to which he vouchsafed 
no reply, but wrote to the Duke of Albuquerque 
admouisbing him to see that due satisfaction was 
made to the Church. He required also that the 
president of the Senate and two senators who had 
taken part in the act by counsel or authority, should 
appear at Bome within thirty days to make answer 
for themselves. He also by a special messenger sum- 
moned to Borne the ofiicials whom the Cardinal had 
excommunicated. The papal courier arrived on ist 
September, 1567, and was received with honour 
by the Governor, and by the Grand Chancellor of 
Spain, who declared that the letters of the Sovereign 
Pontiff should be received with the same veneration as 
though they came from the very hand of St Peter. 
The Governor afforded every assistance in his power 
to the envoy, appointing his own confessor to wait on 
him, and furnishing him with his recommendation 
whenever necessary. 

Hereupon the enemy of souls raised once more a 
storm against the saint, exciting men to assail his re- 
putation for sanctity, so as to hinder the influence he 

170 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

exercised over the people for good. He was now 
accused of harbouring ambitious designs, and attempt- 
ing to make himself master of the city. It was said 
that by his late measures he had been paving the 
way for obtaining this object, and that his reference to 
the Pope was only a feint for the purpose of drawing 
off suspicion from his own aims. 

The Governor was highly incensed by these slan- 
derous reports, for he knew that the holy Cardinal 
was incapable of entertaining any such idea. To 
testify his abhorrence of these attacks, he put under 
restraint a person of rank who had made himself 
notorious by spreading the scandal. 

Conscious of his innocence, the saint pursued with 
patience the even tenor of his way, seeking not to justify 
himself, but solicitous only for the welfare of his flock. 
He went on with the reforms he had undertaken, and 
kept up the constant practice of all the fimctions and 
obligations of his office. It might well, indeed, have 
been a cause of discouragement to him to see that the 
calumnies circulated against him, impeded his efforts 
for good ; and that many gentlemen who had formerly 
visited him, now held aloof. But all these things he 
accepted as mortifications, and purified his soul more 
and more in the love of God, and in detachment from 
the world. 

The persons cited by the Sovereign Pontiff had been, 
in the first instance, required to present themselves in 
Home within the time above named ; but subsequently 
a later day was fixed, to admit of the arrival of the 
Marquis of Seralvio, who had been deputed by Philip 

opposition made to his Jurisdiction. 171 

II. to represent him at the Papal Court, and to settle 
the dispute. The Marquis arrived at Milan early in 
1568, and immediately requested an audience of the 
Cardinal, with whom he consulted at length upon the 
matter at issue. At the commencement of the dis- 
cussion, the Marquis was inclined to consider that St. 
Charles had laid himself open to a charge of undue 
severity, by his treatment of the senators ; and that 
he had been unwise in applying to the Pope, and thus 
prejudicing him, instead of leaving the matter in the 
hands of the King, who would have settled the differ- 
ence. The Marquis considered also that his Majesty 
had a right to expect that such a course would have 
been taken, out of consideration for the favour he had 
always shown the Cardinal, and his appreciation of his 
merits, which would have led him to support his 
rights to the utmost. In conclusion he begged him to 
treat the affair as a loving father would, in order that 
it might be brought peaceably to an end, and at least 
to write to his Holiness beseeching him to recall his 
citation, and thus settle the dispute without requiring 
the presence of the senators at Rome. 

St Charles replied with humility and firmness that 
it did not become him to interpose in the course the 
Holy Father had thought proper to adopt ; neither did 
he see that there was any other open to him, since 
grave injury had been offered to the rights of the 
Church. For himself he was afraid that his Holiness 
might blame him for delay in the matter. As to the 
slight he was supposed to have put upon his Catholic 
Majesty, this was not borne out by the fact, since. 

172 Life of St. C/iarles Borromeo. 

before refeiriug to Eome» he had patiently waited for 
a long time, in the hope tiiat his opponents might 
come to a better mind. Afterwards he had commimi- 
cated in the most conciliatoiy spirit with the Groremor 
and senators, seeking in this way to put an end to the 
contradictions wliich had been raised against the 
exercise of the power of the Church. But all his 
efforts had proved useless. Moreover, violence had 
been offered to the prerogatives, not of the See of 
Milan alone, but to those of the universal Church, 
and to the authority of the Supreme Pontiff. These 
outrages had rendered it necessary for him to apply 
to his Holiness as the supreme Judge and Father of 
the faithful He had not thought by this to incur 
the displeasure of his Majesty, whose great qualities 
he had always appreciated by submitting himself and 
his concerns to him in all lawful matters, to his royal 
will and pleasure. He himself could not, however, 
be expected out of gratitude to his Majesty to waive 
the rights of the Church in the slightest degree. 
The devotion of the King to the Church was well 
known to him, and especially his consideration for 
the See of Milan, as shown by his constant readi- 
ness to employ himself in her defence. He added 
that, although the advice which it had been suggested 
he should offer to the Holy Father would not have 
been becoming, he had written a fitting letter to the 
Pope which he entrusted to the Marquis to be delivered 
to his Holiness. 

opposition made to his Jurisdiction. i *J2> 

LdUr of SL Charles to Pope Pitts V, 

" Most Holy Father,— It is but lately that I had 
occasion to give your Holiness a particular account of 
all things concerning the jurisdiction of the Church of 
Milan. I have now commissioned Monsignor Orma- 
neto to report what has taken place between myself 
and the Marquis of Seralvio, now on his way to 
Iwome. The Marquis having urged me to write to 
your Holiness to arrange the dispute, and not to 
require the attendance of the senators who have been 
cited to appear in Rome, I have felt bound briefly 
to express my opinion, as I have already expressed it 
by word of mouth to the Marquis. With regard to 
the senators, I have only to say that I seek no redress 
whatever for the personal affront offered to myself. 
Concerning the remainder of their offence I would 
leave it entirely to your Holiness to do what is 
necessary to vindicate the majesty of the Church of 
which your Holiness is the head, whilst I am but one 
of its least members. Concerning the rights of the 
Church of Milan, I declare here most solemnly that I 
have no other desire than to preserve them in their integ- 
rity, and transmit them to my successors, in order that 
future Archbishops may exercise their powers without 
let or hindrance from the secular arm. This being 
so, it is enough for me that I have been enabled to 
send your Holiness the proofs of the just rights and 
prerogatives of this see. Around your Holiness stand 
men of wisdom and sound doctrine, who took part in 
the Council of Trent, and have already pronounced 

1 74 Life of SL Charles Borromeo. 

judgment in such causes. In a word, as the Church 
is guided by the Holy Ghost, I can only await your 
decision, and hold myself in readiness to accept it 
as necessarily just and holy with cheerfulness and 

( 175 ) 





It might be thought that a matter of so great con- 
sequence as this question of ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
would have sufficed to engross the whole time and 
attention of the Cardinal, so as to have prevented his 
leaving the city. It was not so, however, nor did he 
even so much as intermit any of his usual functions, 
or labours for the souls of his flock. With regard to 
the affair that was pending, the Cardinal left all issues 
wholly and entirely to the decision of the Supreme 

In the height of the dispute he went on the visita- 
tion of the three Swiss valleys which stood, he knew, 
in great need of his personal supervision. He started 
in the beginning of October 1567, when the weather 
is already wintry in those districts, which lie at 
the foot of Mount St. Gothard, which separates Italy 
from Germany, about a hundred miles distant from 
Milan. He would not defer his visit to a more 
favourable time of year, for he yearned after these 

176 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

few sheep, among whom, for lack of episcopal super- 
vision, Christian discipline had well nigh died out 

These three valleys, Leventina, Bregno and La 
Eiviera, were not altogether under Swiss dominion, 
but were subject to the three cantons of Uri, Schwytz, 
and Unterwalden. They had before belonged in 
matters temporal as well as spiritual to four Canons 
of the Church of Milan, to whom they gave the title 
of Counts. They passed from their possession in the 
course of a war between the Swiss and a former 
Duke of Milan, who, desirous of making peace, con- 
sented to cede the rights of the Canons over them, 
giving the latter in compensation certain revenues 
in the territory of Castel Seprio, and allowing them 
to retain ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the valleys. 
Even this, however, they were unable to defend against 
the pretensions of certain usurpers, and retained only 
the right of nomination to benefices. The ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction over this' territory devolved, therefore, upon 
the Cardinal, situated as it was within the confines 
of his diocese. One great obstacle, however, greatly 
impeded the enforcement of his discipline, viz., the 
absence of representative of the temporal power for 
the time being. St Charles previously to his visita- 
tion, wrote to the authorities of the cantons, and 
requested that some person furnished with necessary 
credentials should be sent to co-operate, with the 
power of the secular arm, in the work of reform. 

The authorities were much gratified by the deference 
paid them by the Cardinal, and sent envoys^ from 

1 These were Bantineri, RoUi and ZambruDi. 

Visitation of Three Swiss Valleys. 177 

each canton to accompany him in his visitation, armed 
with due powers, and fully acquainted with the mind 
of those who accredited them. 

Lamentable, indeed, was the state of confusion and 
disorder that they found. Notoriously was this the case 
among the clergy who, having obtained their benefices, 
in many instances it was to be feared, by simony, lived 
in the commission of many flagrant and scandalous 
excesses. Those who did not go to so great lengths 
gave themselves up to worldly business and traffic, 
while their churches and all that concerned divine 
worship were in a condition of neglect than which 
nothincj could be worse. The most Blessed Eucharist 
was reserved in a way that showed they had lost 
all reverence for It,^ while the other Sacraments 
were treated with shocking carelessness. The churches 
received so little attention as hardly to have any 
sign of the sacred purposes they ought to serve. 
Many sins and enormities were rife amongst the flocks 
of these negligent pastors. As the good shepherd went 
on his way discovering with his own eyes fresh proofs 
of these miseries, tears started from his eyes. It was 
some consolation to him to know that the people of 
these districts were extremely simple, their sins arising 
more from ignorance than from malice, whence he 
had great hope with the help of God of bringing them 

^ S«e the t&int'f words in Oltroochi from % letter of hit to Mgr. Or- 
maneto, dated 5 NoTember, 1567. **Pneterqaam qaod Sanctisiimam 
Chriiti Corpus in polTeralentii raiibas oceurrit, tordidisque theeie 
•emeitri et amplios ipatio ibidem neglectom, in templo quodam ad 
manos renit Ejoidem fnigmentum earie exesnm, et etlice attrito partim 
iubareni partim linteolo, quo riau totus eohormi" 

VOL I ^ 

1 78 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

to a better state. The overwhelming amount of work 
to be done onlj spurred him on to greater exertions, 
as he yielded to no difiScuIty and shrunk from no 
fatigue in penetrating to every spot, however wild 
and unapproachable, travelling sometimes on foot 
over mountains and valleys and almost inaccessible 
tracks. Even the natives were struck with astonish- 
ment at the hardships he cheerfully imderwent and 
the austere life he led, sleeping upon hard boards and 
living upon their own coarse food, from all of which 
he might have been dispensed in so arduous an under- 

Great however was the reward of his labour. He 
gradually brought back the clergy to a better way, 
and worked a marked reform in the lives of the people, 
confirming them in the profession of the faith in which 
many had begun to waver. The decorum of public 
worship was restored, and the spiritual authority of 
the Archbishop was acknowledged throughout the val- 
leys, with the full consent of the temporal lords, who 
were completely won by his fatherly counsels. On 
one occasion when these envoys remarked that they 
left everything in his hands as a tribute to his good- 
ness and sanctity, he bade them remember it was not 
to himself they should make the offering, but to God 
and His Church. A good impression was made upon 
all by the liberality with which he bore all the expenses 
of the journey, including those of the envoys and their 

On the completion of the visitation, the Cardinal 
assembled the clergy of the district he had traversed, 

Visitation of Three Swiss Valleys. 1 79 

and impressed upon them both in his own words and 
those of others, the obligation they were imder of living 
holily, and guiding their flocks in the true way of eternal 
life, calling upon them with great earnestness to turn 
over a new leaf, and obey the laws of the Church. 

It would be impossible to speak adequately of the 
light and life infused into all who took part in these 
meetings. Greater weight, moreover, was given to the 
words of the Cardinal, by one of the Swiss envoys, 
who, in the name of the government, said that they 
were quite sensible that they had been to blame in 
suffering the secular power to exercise authority over 
ecclesiastics ; he submitted, however, that they had 
been forced to this in a measure by the bad lives of 
the priests, and by the neglect of former Archbishops 
to correct such flagrant scandals, or to look after the 
poor people of these distant valleys. That this would 
no longer be the case he was assured, for not only had 
the sacred Council of Trent been held, but its decrees 
had been received, and ought to be observed by alL 
They were therefore resolved to submit themselves 
entirely to the Cardinal, their Archbishop, who was 
their only rightful pastor and ruler. 

To crown all his labours, the clergy were called upon 
publicly to receive the Tridentine Decrees, as well as 
those of his provincial and diocesan synod, each making 
his profession of faith accordingly. 

When taking leave of the people, the Archbishop 
gratefully thanked the envoys for the attention they 
had rendered him throughout the journey. In sepa- 
rate letters to each of the authorities of the cantons, 

i8o Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

he expressed the same sentiments, pointing out also that 
thej were not to interfere with the people in matters of 
faith. The friendship thos begun was continued and 
strengthened throughout succeeding years. The rulers 
for their part, lent their whole authority to his measures 
for tlie propagation of the faith, and the salvation of 
souls. With the consent of the Sovereign Pontiff, he 
admitted six youths from these districts into his semi- 
nary, in order to strengthen this good-will, and on his 
return to llklilan, sent them several good priests, who by 
preaching the ^yord of God, and the due administra- 
tion of the Sacraments, gave the assistance that was so 
much needed by these poor sheep of the flock. 

( i8i ) 




As we have already mentioned, St. Charles was the 
Protector of the community of the Frati Umiliati, or 
Brethren of Humility, and as such he carefully watched 
over them, and others committed to his charge by the 
Holy See. 

The Umiliati had in many particulars departed 
from the regulations of their institute, and were espe- 
cially neglectful of the rule of community life. 

The Order was originally founded by some Milanese 
gentlemen in thanksgiving for their release from a long 
captivity under the Emperor Conrad, or according to 
others, Frederic Barbarossa. They resolved to have 
all things in common, and adopted the rule of St. 

For a long time they lived in exact observance 
of community life, and regular discipline flourished 
among them, their numbers and wealth increasing in 
the course of time. 

1 82 Life of St. Charles B or ronieo. 

But after a while discipline began to be relaxed, 
the practice of having private property crept in, and 
increased by little and little, until at last the superiors 
of monasteries, who had the title of Provosts, made 
themselves masters of the whole temporalities of the 
community, becoming mere titled dignitaries. Con- 
sidering themselves to be proprietors instead of stewards 
and administrators of the revenues, they left for the 
maintenance of the brethren a modicimi which was 
barely sufficient for this purpose. They renounced the 
office at will, as if it had been a mere titular benefice, 
in favour of their own nominees. Hence arose a 
multitude of abuses. The superior was loth to 
diminish his gains, and consequently opposed the in- 
crease of the number of the brethren. Worse than 
this, persons addicted to vice were admitted into the 
Order who were quite unfit for it, and the superiors 
squandered the ample means at their disposal in licen- 
tious living, like men of the world, many of them 
devoting themselves to the pleasures of the chase and 
to profane pastimes, to the great scandal of the people. 
Thus, perforce, they shut their eyes to the infraction of 
the rule among the brethren, just as if exact observance 
had altogether died out. 

Filled with grief at the sight of these poor souls thus 
blindly wandering along the road that leads to per- 
dition, St. Charles resolved to lose no time in restoring 
them to their primitive observance. To this object he 
had directed the attention of Monsignor Ormaneto, 
when he sent him to Milan during the pontificate of 
Pius IV., directing him to' hold a Chapter of the Order 

Reform of the Fraii Umiliati. 183 

and to impose certain regulations for the correction of 
abuses. A stronger hand, however, was needed in 
order to eradicate the evil Tlie Cardinal, therefore, 
begged for the assistance of the Holy See. His inten- 
tion was to commence the reform by depriving the 
heads of the Order of all claim to the possession of 
private property, by putting an end to the practice of 
making their position of superior a titular dignity to 
be held in perpetuity. The next step was the founda- 
tion of a novitiate for the training of postulants in the 
true spirit of the iustitute and the observance of exact 
discipline. These two points he considered as the basis 
in all reforms of religious orders. 

St. Charles obtained from his Holiness two Briefs, 
the first of which empowered him to apply the tithes 
of the revenues of all superiors of houses to the pur- 
pose of founding a novitiate ; and the second conferred 
on him the authority of Apostolic Delegate, enabling 
him to make any provision he deemed necessary for 
the well-being of the various houses he wished to 
reform. The Archbishop foresaw only too plainly 
that he would meet with opposition in the course of 
these measures. 

At a Chapter of the Fathers held at Cremona, St. 
Charles published this second Brief, of which no inti- 
mation had as yet been given. So much prudence 
directed his measures at this Chapter, that by the 
grace of God a good reform was eflfected. The right of 
private property was forbidden to the superiors of the 
different houses of the Order, and it was decreed that 
henceforward the revenues should be held in common 

184 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

amongst all the brethren. The superiors were to be 
elected by the suffrages of the community, and the 
office to be held for three years only at a time. The 
practice of electing superiors for life was abolished. 
At the same time St. Charles confirmed a Superior- 
General of the Order, who was to hold his office only 
for a certain term of years, and made other rules in 
order to renew the ancient fervour of the brethren. 
These constitutions gave great satisfaction to the 
majority, who seemed at first disposed to adopt them. 
But some superiors, led by self-interest and unmind- 
ful of the grace they would have gained by obedience, 
opposed St. Charles step by step with the detennina- 
tion of regaining their former position. They peti- 
tioned the Holy Father, and endeavoured to induce 
influential persons to recognise the abuse that had, 
they averred, been committed in thus depriving them 
of their property. 

St. Charles met all this clamour with unalterable 
firmness. He overcame their opposition according as 
it arose in various ways ; and he resolutely enforced 
observance of his decrees. The heads of houses were 
thus reduced to silence, though not to submission. 
The devil, with his accustomed malice, took occasion 
of their evil dispositions to excite them to the com- 
mission of the outrage which we shall have occasion 
to relate. 

St. Charles was also Protector of the Franciscan 
Order. It received no small share of his attention 
and solicitude, so widely spread and beneficial as it was 
to the Church at large. The different reforms which 


Reform of tJie Franciscan Order. 185 

had been effected from time to time in various places 
had divided this Order into Conventuals and Observan- 
tines. In some of the principal houses of the Con- 
ventuals the custom of private property had been 
introduced, and had almost banished holy poverty, the 
mainstay and anchor of the Order. This abuse pre- 
vailed to such an extent that some of the religious, 
arrogating to themselves a certain authority or superi- 
ority over the others, lived apart from them in houses 
of their own, fitted up with every comfort and luxur}'. 
St. Charles lost no time in bringing them back to their 
ancient observance, and was assisted in his labours by 
Cardinal Alessaudro Crivelli, whom he made Vice- 
Protector of the Order in Rome. The latter appointed 
certain of the most exemplary and zealous among the 
Fathers to visit all their houses, and reform them 
according as they found need. None are indeed so 
well able to conduct a reform as those who, having 
lived under the rule, are necessarily the best informed 
as to its need of correction, and the proper way of 
effecting it 

The Cardinal found that amongst certain brethren 
of the Observantines a spirit of private property had 
made considerable way. Its consequence was that in 
this way they made parties and influenced the elections 
to offices. 

Being thus surrounded by their own creatures, 
disunion and jealousy began to be rife among the 
members of the community. It would . often happen 
that superiors were elected to please a faction, without 
any regard to merit or fitness, and thus quite unsuit- 

1 86 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

able for their work, and izusapaUe of maintaining order 
and obedience, their only object being to promote the 
interests of their own favourites and adherents. As a 
natural consequence relaxation of discipline followed, 
and the community began to decay. Laying the prun- 
ing-knife to the root of the evil, St. Charles forbade 
all private property, and removed the most factious and 
influential heads of houses to remote and insignificant 
communities, thus putting an end to party spirit. 

It had happened some time previously that a good 
religious of the Order, a native of Lisbon named 
Amadeo, lamenting the too evident relaxation of 
fervour, had begun a reform. Not finding himself 
equal to the task of bringing the whole body back to 
a strict observance of the rule, he withdrew from them 
with several others of his own way of thinking, and 
formed a separate community, which took the name 
of Amedei/ owning, however, obedience to the same 
superiors as the others. For a little while these 
brethren went on well, but as human nature is ever 
prone to evil, needing a resolute grasp to keep it con- 
tinually in check, before very long their fervour waned, 
and they became only distinguished from the rest by 
an abnormal separation from the body of which they 
had been members. This disunion, utterly contrary to 
the spirit of religious brethren, very naturally brought 
forth a multitude of scandals. 

^ The Amedei were a branch of the FranciBoans established in Italj, 
eaUing themielTes, after their founder, ^'lorers of God«'* St Pius V. 
in 1566 united twenty-eight of their monasteriei to the general bodj 
of the Order, but some houses bj permission adopted the Cistercian 

Reform of tlu Franciscan Order. 187 

Another breach in the Order had been made by some 
brethren who called themselves Chiareni.^ 

St Charles took counsel with the Holy Father, and 
obtained a Brief empowering him to unite these two 
branches with the body. He convoked a congregation 
for the purpose at Milan, in the ^lonastery of Our 
Lady of Peace, one of their chief houses, and explained 
to them the purport of the Brief, and the measures 
he intended to adopt in the exercise of his faculties. 
Tlie brethren, however, were most strenuously opposed 
to the union, and as if excited by an evil spirit, set 
themselves clamorously against hint The bells were 
rung, as a sort of declaration of war ; many, indeed, 
were quite prepared to lay hands upon the Cardinal, 
had he taken definite action. Perceiving their distress, 
the saint withdrew, and with his usual patience post- 
poned carrying out his reforms until such time as they 
had recovered from their excitement, his resolution to 
do what behoved him as a just and faithful protector 
of the Order remaining unchanged; viz., to reunite 
the scattered members to the parent stock, and to 
abolish the divisions of Amedei and Chiareni Nor 
was his intention modified in the least by the inter- 
position of princes and other persons of influence. 

When it was a question of punishing the authors of 
the tumult, though their want of respect for the autho- 
rity of the Sovereign Pontiff in his own person, as their 

1 The Chutrani, fo emUed from ChUrana, a ttream of the SUrch of 
Aneooa, where Brother Angelo founded a Franciscan commnnitj, aabject 
to the Bishop of the diooese, in 1300. Some houses in 1473 joined the 
Obserrantines, and in 15x0 and 1566 the rest were united to the same 
branch of the Order. 

1 88 Life of St. diaries Borromeo. 

Protector had been open and inexcusable, the saints 
\rith characteristic mildness, so far from chastiBing 
them according to their deserts, interceded for them 
with the Holy Father, and obtained a free pardon for 

NoU on p. x8x.— TAtf Fmii Umiliati. 

The brethren of this Order, who were at this time onl j about a hundred 
and sixty in number all told, were in possession of upwards of ninetj- 
four houses, each of which could accommodate a hundred brethren, but 
often two would occupy a whole house. 

P, 183.—^ Chapter of the Fathert, 

This Chapter was held in May 1567, and at the suggestion of the saint, 
the Father Luigi Gascipc wai chosen General. 

( i89 ) 




During the first years of the pontificate of Pius V., 
a great scandal arose in consequence of the heretical 
doctrines of a certain preacher at Mantua. "When the 
Father Inquisitor proceeded, in accordance with the 
duties of his office, to take steps against the ofifender, 
the miserable man incited the people to active resist- 
ance, in the course of which two Dominican religious 
were killed. 

The Holy Father was deeply grieved at this lament- 
able occurrence, not only on account of the insult 
ofifered to the Holy Office, and the apostolic authority, 
but also for the loss of so many souls. Fearful lest 
the fire of heresy would spread far and wide, and 
involve Italy in a conflagration, he saw that prompt 
measures alone would stop it, and that Cardinal Bor- 
romeo was of all men the one most fitted for the task. 
As he had seen proofs of the judgment and prudence 
of St. Charles, joined to zeal and capacity for the 

IQO Life of St. CJtarles Borronteo. 

successful conduct of affairs, when he carried on the 
government of the Church under Pius IV. ; his Holi- 
ness lost no time in conferring ample powers upon 
the saint to enable him to overcome this attack of 
the evil one. Overwhelmed as he was with press of 
business, St. Charles accepted the new burden without 
hesitation, in a spirit of ready compliance with the wishes 
of the Pontiff. Notwithstanding the urgency of the case, 
he thought it necessary solemnly to commend the matter 
to God in the Forty Hours' prayer before the Blessed 
Sacrament, after the example of the primitive Church. 
In Febniary 1568, he reached Mantua, and by his 
wisdom and prudence entirely convinced the accused 
of their errors, so that without further controversy they 
abjured their heresy, with the vindication of the autho- 
rity, of the Holy Ofl&ce and punishment of the offenders. 
The citizens returned thanks to God for having sent them 
an angel to deliver them from the peril with which 
they had been menaced; while the Holy Father and 
Sacred College could not refrain from testifying their 
appreciation of the Cardinal's prudence. 

So highly did the Pope value the capacity shown by 
St. Charles in this emergency that he entrusted him 
with another mission. A certain religious house had 
become infected with heretical tenets. Several of the 
community who had been previously leading careless 
lives, devoid of the spirit of their institute, had not 
only themselves fallen a prey to the infection, but had 
carried it into other parts of Italy. As the contagion 
was spreading from day to day, St. Charles, armed 
with full powers, set himself vigorously to suppress the 

Commissioned by tlie Pope. 191 

evil. Obtaining information of the secret haunts of 
heresy, he imprisoned its chief abettors in order to 
give them an opportunity of acknowledging their folly, 
and to prevent them bringing others to similar destruc- 
tion. Within a short space of time the danger was 
averted without any disturbance. 

Thus did the servant of God deliver Italy, under 
Divine Providence, from the destructive ravages of 
heresy that threatened to blight the harvest of the 

NnU on p. 189. — A certain preacher. 

This waa one Francesco Callaria of Lacchiarella, in the diocese of 
Milan. By order of St. Pius V. he was Uken to Rome, where he was 
tried and condemned. See Catena's life of St. Pius V. 

P. 190.—^ certain reUgioui hov$e. 

Peter Martyr Vermiglio, of the Regular Lateran Canons, was here the 
stumbling-block on which fell his brethren Celso Martinengo of Bresda 
and Girolamo Zanchi of Bergamo, and others. 

( 192 ) 




The intervals of leisure between the important matters 
which took him away from the diocese were employed 
by St. Charles in the spiritual concerna of his soul. 
He went through the spiritual exercises according to 
his annual custom, and he also made a general con- 
fession of the sins of his whole life to Alessandro 
Sauli,^ one of the Eegular Clerks of St. Paul, provost 
of St. Barnabas in Milan. St. Charles held this 
priest in the highest esteem, and set great store by his 
counsels, to which he often had recourse. He after- 
wards spoke of this retreat as the beginning of his 
spiritual life, counting as nothing all that he had 
hitherto done. 

The great success of all the undertakings of the 
Saint gave much pleasure to the Holy Father, and he 
spoke of his merit to the Sacred College of Cardinals. 
In a letter addressed to Cardinal Giovanni Battista 

^ Afterwards made Bishop of Aleria, then of Paria; beatified by 
Benedict XIV. 

Holds his Second Diocesan Synod. 1 93 

Cigala, the Pope says of him that he knew no Prelate 
so diligent in all things concerning the honour and 
service of God, nor so resolute in maintaining the 
liberties of the Church and the authority of the Apos- 
tolic See. The Pope frequently expressed a wish that 
the Church had half-a-dozen such Cardinals, and used 
to propose him as a model to the other members of the 
Sacred College. When he desired to stir them up to 
any great work, or to draw their attention to any de- 
fect, the Holy Father would say, " Only copy Cardinal 
Borromeo." Although the Cardinal was under thirty 
years of age, such was the confidence of the Pope in 
his wisdom, that he entrusted him with matters of the 
first importance. 

But four months had elapsed since he left his 
diocese, and yet the heart of the good pastor yearned 
to return to his flock. He petitioned the Sovereign 
Pontiff to release him from further engagements, urging 
the need of his presence at home, more especially be- 
cause it was necessary to hold another diocesan Synod. 
He added that his absence was doing harm, inasmuch 
as evil-minded persons misinterpreted the continual 
business which kept him away to be but a pretext for 
not returning at all. This tended to chill the earnest- 
ness of the good, and to harden sinners in their licen- 
tious courses. 

The Holy Father, respecting his scruples, granted 
the permission he sought, so that he returned to Milan 
in June, 1568, and was received with joy by his de- 
lighted people. Without any loss of time, he at once 
began to prepare for holding his diocesan synod, which 

VOL. L ^ 

194 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

he fixed for the fourth day of August One of his 
chief reasons for summoning it was his wish to repair 
the shortcomings which his late visitation had made 

As this was the first diocesan synod held by him 
since the celebration of his first provincial council, he 
ordered its decrees to be read, as binding the clergy. 
Many other measures were also enacted for the reform of 
the diocese, all of which are comprised in the " Acts of 
the Church of Milan." 

As the saint was always careful to perform every 
action pertaining to the service of God with scrupu- 
lous punctuality and order, so was he wont to bestow 
more than ordinary care upon the celebration of his 
synods, and affirmed that they were most powerful 
means of restoring discipline and divine worship, and 
preserving the purity of Faith unscathed. In order to 
make his pastoral solicitude better understood, we will 
take this opportunity of explaining his method of hold- 
ing these synods. 

Before opening them he was careful to have infor- 
mation of all irregularities and want of proper order, 
by means of the visitations he had made in person 
and by his deputies, especially the congregation of the 
sixty rural deans of the diocese and the six prefects 
of the city, held every year. This meeting was always 
held early in January, and the priests attending it were 
required to have visited their districts and deaneries 
previously, and to have noted down all defects and 
shortcomings. The session of this congregation lasted 
many days, and served as a preparation for the synod 

Holds his Second Diocesan Synod. 195 

which was to follow. A detailed account of all that 
had been reported was then made out, after which 
they proceeded maturely to consider the various 
measures proposed. It was the constant wish of the 
Cardinal that each person should be free to make any 
suggestion he thought proper ; and when all had spoken, 
he selected what he deemed the best counsel, and com- 
mitted it to writing. To facilitate this arrangement, 
each person was furnished with a desk and writing 
materials, so that they might note down the various 
diflBculties that were brought forward, and the remedies 
suggested. On these occasions the rural deans lived 
in the Archbishop's house at his expense, the congre- 
gation never breaking up under a fortnight or three 
weeks, or at least until effectual measures had been 
taken for the furtherance of Christian life and the re- 
form of abuses. 

Two other important benefits resulted from these 
congregations. The points so minutely discussed 
served not only as matter for the decrees to be 
made, but also elicited from him pastoral letters and 
counsel most beneficial to the souls under his care. 
The discourses and opinions enunciated at these meet- 
ings were of the utmost value to the various priests 
who assisted thereat, forming them in discipline, and 
giving them useful suggestions for the management of 
their parishes. They received illumination also by the 
wisdom of the Cardinal and his faithful attention to 
the guidance of the Holy Ghost, which enabled him 
to solve perplexing difficulties which were beyond the 
scope of ordinary understandings. 

196 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

One of his clergy declared that he had learnt more 
at one of these congregations than from many years' 

This was his first preparation for the Council. As 
the time drew near, he called upon the clergy and 
people throughout the diocese to make instant prayer 
and frequent processions to implore the assistance of 
the Holy Spirit The saint had the most entire trust 
in the power of prayer to draw down the Divine bles- 
sing, and hence he exhorted all to go to Confession 
and Communion with this intention. His own in- 
defatigable labours in his humility be considered as 
nothing beside the prayers of fervent priests in the 
holy sacrifice of the Mass. 

Just before the Council, two congregations were 
held in his presence of all the urban and diocesan 
visitors. In these meetings the form and order to 
be observed in the sessions of the Council was settled, 
and the officers elected. The clergy were informed 
where they were to lodge, as they were forbidden to 
stay at inns. The Cardinal made provision in his 
own house for those who came from a distance, and 
for all poor priests. A certain number of ecclesiastics 
were deputed to keep order and watch over the due 
observance of the prescribed regulations. In short, 
every possible provision for all cases was made at 
this congregation, so that there was not the smallest 
matter which was not done according to rula The 
result was that the synods were always conducted 
with decorum and gave great edification to all. 

On the day fixed for the Council, the clergy went in 

Holds his Second Diocesan Synod. 197 

procession to the church of St Ambrose. All knew 
their own place, for each member of the Chapter and 
each head of a parish had the image of the holy 
Patron of his church placed over the seat he was to 
occupy. Tables of directions were posted about in 
difTerent places, enjoining silence and gravity whilst 
falling into order. The Cardinal then sang the 
pontifical Mass which opened the session of the 
Council, and watched continually over all, for their 
edification and spiritual advantage. Not content with 
attending to the ordinary objects of a synod, making 
enactments and passing decrees, he was earnestly 
solicitous for the advancement of his clergy in piety 
and devotion, and directed all his efiforts to increasing 
in them the love of God and zeal for the salvation of 
souls, knowing from experience that the spiritual well- 
being of the flock depends on the holiness of the 
clergy. The session of the Council was looked upon 
by him as a harvest-time wherein he laboured to 
gather fruit by his counsels and admonitions. His 
burning zeal gave life and warmth to all. Sometimes 
he would give private advice according to the circum- 
stances of each ; and at other times, would instruct 
them from the pulpit with the authority of a pastor. 
His discourses were full of the unction of the Holy 
Spirit and models of sound doctrine. He spoke so 
fervently and pierced the hearts of his hearers that 
they were completely carried out of themselves, and 
rapt, as it were, into heaven. I myself can bear wit- 
ness to these workings of the Spirit in my heart and 
in my brethren at these meetings. His discourses 

198 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

touched with compunction and quickened all in the 
desire of well-doing. On each of the three days of 
the synod he preached two sermons, one after the 
Mass, with a gospel appropriate to the synod; the 
second at the opening of the session after dinner. 

The laity were always rigorously excluded, in order 
that he might confer with his clergy more freely upon 
their failings. He desired each priest to say Mass 
every day, but when this was not possible through 
lack of time or of altars, he exhorted them at least 
to go to communion at his Mass, that each might be 
rendered more fit for the indwelling of the Spirit of 
God and receive the abundance of His grace. Though 
the fervent prayers and the public ceremonies fostered 
a great spirit of devotion among all, yet it was the pre- 
sence and personal influence of the saintly Cardinal 
himself which filled up all that was wanting. Always 
composed, placid, and full of fervour, his union with 
God never for one moment interrupted, he was seen 
among his clergy like a burning light illuminating 
and kindling all with heavenly radiance. 

The attention of the Cardinal was by no means 
confined to interior matters. He made a careful 
scrutiny during the session of the synod into all 
particulars of the condition, oflBce, and obligations of 
each member. The prefects of the clergy were charged 
to examine even into their dress, to take particular 
notice of the bearing and demeanour of each, so that 
there should be nothing, however trivial, contravening 
the decrees or unbecoming to their clerical character, 
according to the holy Council of Trent. 

Holds his Second Diocesan Synod. 1 99 

The clergy habited in cassocks, closely shaven, and 
of grave deportment, presented the appearance of an 
assembly of religious brethren; so that the people 
conceived much veneration for the ecclesiastical state 
from which they had formerly shrunk, on account of 
the corruption and depravity that had abounded. 

At the close of the synod copies of certain prayers, 
recommending to God the various necessities of the 
Church, were distributed among the clergy to be used 
in their churches on all festivals. Before the final 
dispersion, all who desired it were admitted to an 
audience of the Cardinal, who devoted several days 
to giving spiritual counsel and advice to each indivi- 
dual, according to his needs. 

No wonder was it that each of these favoured 
priests went to his home refreshed and invigorated in 
interior spirit, and filled with the determination to 
lead a holy life entirely devoted to his flock. No 
account henceforward was taken of any difficulty in 
the path of duty, and no obstacle was suffered to 
interfere with the execution of his decrees. 

Such were the fruits of his synods, the most effica- 
cious means employed by the saint in the reform of 
his diocese. 

NqU on jBL X9S.— Xriveci in ikt ArchbitKop^i houst, 

PosMTino in his life of the taint teUa nt that he waa aocoi tomed to 
entertain at bed and board more than two hundred of hi« prieata at theee 




During this year St. Charles brpught to completion a 
work commenced at Milan twelve months previously. 
A number of fallen women had been gathered together 
by a charitable Spanish lady, Isabella di Aragona, 
some time before this. She received those who had 
no other shelter into a hired house under her manage- 
ment. On her death St Charles took up the work, 
and to give it greater stability and order, committed 
the charge of it to a company of religious women, 
twelve in number, of the third Order of St Francis, 
and gave them the church and presbytery of St Bene- 
dict in which to carry it on, and bought the next 
house to it for their own abode. As the parish of St. 
Benedict was but a small one, he suppressed it, and 
united it to the adjacent parish of St Peter. 

These two houses afforded ample accommodation 
for the new institute, and enabled him to establish a 
regular enclosure. He gave it the name of " House of 
Succour," because it was intended for the succour of 

opens a House of Succour. 201 

unhappy women who, having fallen into sin, had no 
place whither they could flee for protection. 

This work caused him a considerable outlay, not 
only in adapting the building, but also in providing 
the inmates with necessary maintenance. For their 
permanent support he assigned a regular monthly 
alms chargeable upon his own income, besides occa- 
sional donations as needed, and a certain fixed sum 
which he had set aside from the first for this purpose. 
Ever intent on the welfare of his flock, this house and 
its inmates were not forgotten by the Cardinal, even 
when he was absent on the business committed to him 
by the Holy Father. It was indeed at that time that 
he drew up a rule for the government of the com- 
munity, which he sent to the committee of its tem- 
poral administration, together with a letter dated i oth 
May, 1 568, recommending this foundation to them in 
terms of most paternal charity. 

After his return to Milan and completion of the 
business of the second diocesan synod, he gave this 
rule to the religious in charge of the institute, and 
wrote them a letter on the observance of it, dated the 
24th September following. This rule directed that 
the persons to be admitted into the House of Succour 
were to be, first, women who had fallen into sin; 
secondly, those who, having contracted unsuitable 
marriages, could not live with their husbands ; and 
thirdly, those who were destitute of suitable protec- 
tion, and in danger of losing their honour or their 
livelihood. It was provided that those who composed 
the first class should be admonished by their confessor, 

302 Life of St, Charles Borromeo. , 

and by the nuns, in all charity, to sincere repeotance 
for the past, in order that they might ultimately enter 
some convent of penitents, or lead virtuous lives ac- 
cording to their station in the world. Those of the 
second class were to be received til! such time as they ' 
should be reconciled with their husbands, and the 
spiritual directors and others were exhorted to use 
their best endeavours to bring about this end. Those 
of the third class were not to be suffered to depart 
until some permanent provision had been made for 
their fittare security, ^lia good work has continued . 
to this time, and has rescued many souls from peril 
and rain. There are seldom leaa than eighty women 
at a time in the House, all of whom are governed 
according to the rnla laid down hy the Cardinal 

His chief care after the close of the Council vas to 
continue the visitation of the diocese, especially in the 
remote parts and the borders, vhere heresy abounded. 
In several of these localities he found the people so 
neglected that they were little better than aavf^es, and 
he had to undergo a vast amount of labour in striving 
to imbue them with his spirit, and bring them back to 
the way of salvation from which they had grievously 
strayed. The priests in these parts gave great scandal 
by their lives. Many who had the cure of souls could 
not say the words of absolution in the sacrament of 
penance, and were not acquainted with the cases in 
which absolution was reserved to the Pope or the 
Bishop. Some even never went to confession them- 
selves, and used to give themselves up without remorse 

Visitation of his Diocese. 203 

to every kind of vice. Their people again were so 
ignorant that some hardly knew how to make the sign 
of the cross. 

The heart of the pastor was wounded at the misery 
he was called upon to witness, but far from despairing, 
he set to work like a diligent husbandman to eradicate 
vice and to sow the seed of a sound knowledge of the 
things of God. Begardless of trouble and peril, as he 
travelled from place to place, on one occasion he 
met with the following accident. Coming to the 
Introzzo moxmtain on the borders of the Yaltellina, 
he was stopped by a torrent, much swollen and 
rendered almost impassable by the late heavy rains. 
A sturdy mountaineer, Domenico Yallinello by name, 
offered to carry him across on his back. On reaching 
the middle of the stream, however, the courage of this 
man forsook him, and dropping bis burden he took 
to his heels with all speed from fear of punishment 
It was thought that nothing less than a miracle could 
have rescued the Cardinal from the midst of the 
rushing waters, encumbered as he was by his long 
cassock. He got to the other side, however, in safety, 
having to walk a quarter of a mile in his wet clothes 
before reaching an inn. There he had the runaway 
brought before him, when instead of a punishment, 
he thanked him and gave him a crown piece. The 
memory of this incident is still preserved by the name 
of '' Valle del Cardinale " given to the place where it 

During this visitation he came across several con- 

204 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

vents of nuns in which discipline had become greatly 
relaxed, causing much scandaL He made several at- 
tempts to restore strict observance, but without effect. 
There remained no alternative but to suppress these 
communities and distribute the nuns among better- 
regulated convents. 

There were some cases of misconduct that called 
for especial correction, impertinent and opprobrious 
language being addressed to the Cardinal bj some 
unhappy women, to whose insults he turned a deaf 
ear in his solicitude for the honour of God and the 
salvation of their souls. His corrective discipline was 
not confined to the nuns alone, but was exercised 
also upon ill-conditioned persons who were in the 
habit of visiting these convents, to the scandal of the 
people. The blessing of God rested upon these 
labours, and they bore fruit in the rescue of those 
poor nuns who had been running blindly along the 
broad road to perdition. 

An incident must here be mentioned which occurred 
at Monza, in the visitation of a convent of nuns at 
that place. An evil spirit had for some time past 
annoyed the inmates of the convent of St. Catharine,^ 
molesting them in all their occupations, disturbing 
them in the dormitory at night, following them by day 
into their work-room, and snatching their materials 
from their hands. The continuance of this annoyance 
became very wearying, the more so that there seemed 
no way of escape from it. At this visitation he was 

^ United by the saint to the convent of St. Martin. 

Visitation of his Diocese. 


made acquainted with full details of their distress, 
and they begged him to give his blessing to the house, 
as they judged that his sanctity would be sufficient to 
drive away the evil spirit The saint readily com- 
plied with their petition, whereupon the annoyance 

( 206 ) 




April I 569. 

One of the provisions of the Council of Trent was that 
Metropolitans should hold a Council of the Bishops in 
their province every three years. At the expiration of 
this period, St. Charles convened his second Provincial 
Council, held on the 24th April, 1569, and delayed 
till after Easter with the permission of the Sovereign 
Pontiff. All the Bishops who had assisted at the first 
Council were convened on this occasion, and its decrees 
are preserved in the printed collection of the " Acts of 
the Church of Milan." 

It may not be out of place here to give a brief 
account of the method and order he was wont to 
observe in the celebration of these Councils, especi- 
ally in his latter years, as additional evidence of his 
unwearying and tender care for his flock. No sooner 
had he closed the session of one Council than he com- 
menced preparing the matter of the next. This he 
did by examining the note-books kept for this purpose, 
recording all the wants of his province and each bishopric 

His Second Provincial Council. 207 

ia it More than this, in his paternal solicitude he 
was at pains to procure information concerning the 
life and administration of the Bishops, of which he 
made use when the time came for holding the Coun« 
cil. He likewise recommended each Bishop to depute 
two prelates to visit their respective dioceses, and make 
a report of abuses and irregularities. These were to be 
referred to the deliberation of the Bishops to whom they 
were to make their report 

Through all these channels St. Charles learnt many 
facts, which enabled him to form a tolerably correct 
opinion of the condition and needs of each diocese. 
These formed the groundwork of the decrees proposed. 
Thus by these means, and by the light with which he 
was favoiured by God, he was enabled to discern the 
remedies for disorders, and to put an end to numbers 
of abuses. In difficult cases also, he used to make 
trial in his own diocese of the remedy that occurred 
to him, and if he found it to work successfully, he 
prevailed on the Bishops to make use of the same 
throughout the province by a conciliar decree. 

It was his custom to spend several days in retire- 
ment to prepare for the work of the Council when the 
year came round. In this retreat he was joined by 
men of experience in such affairs, with whom he 
conferred upon the matters to be discussed, and drew 
up decrees in proper form and order. Two months 
before the time for the Council, he gave notice to the 
Bishops and all who who were to take part in it, 
including the synodal visitors, and two Canons from 
each cathedral Chapter. For this purpose he sent 

2o8 Life of St. Charles Borronuo. 

round an ecclesiastical notary, so that all might be at 
Milan by the appointed day. Most exact himself, the 
Archbishop required the punctual attendance at his 
Council of all his suffragans, even though they were 
Cardinals, unless really prevented by some legitimate 
impediment His single-mindedness in this respect 
was strikingly shown in the following occurrence : — 

A Cardinal ^ of high position. Bishop of a see in the 
province of St Charles, happened to be at Milan at the 
time of a provincial Council A notice to attend was 
sent to him, as to the other Bishops. He sought, how- 
ever, to excuse himself on the plea that he was about to 
repair to Eome. St Charles, knowing that the journey 
could very well be deferred, reminded him of the express 
direction of the Council of Trent requiring his attend- 
ance at the Council. His representations having no 
effect upon the Cardinal, who continued his prepara- 
tions for departure, St Charles sent Monsignor Caesar 
Speciano, his vicar-general, to remind him that he was 
bound by order of the Holy See to take part in the 
deliberations of the Council. The Cardinal was thus 
obliged to submit, to his great mortification. Had 
St Charles been inclined to truckle to the laxity of 
great men, he might have found abundant reasons for 
winking at the absence of this Cardinal, besides that 
immediately suggested by his dignity. But it was not 
so. His mind was firmly set on promoting the glory 
of God, and the welfare of Holy Church, and he would 
not excuse himself from the requirements of duty 
with any unworthy pretext. 

^ The Cardinal of St. Gkorge, Bp. of Norara, Giov. Ant*. SerbeUonL 

His Second Provincial Council. 209 

Another Prelate of his province wished to absent 
himself from the Council, alleging that he was bound 
to attend to the affairs of a certain prince, being 
indeed at that moment engaged as an ambassador on 
his behalf. St. Charles, who objected to the practice 
of Bishops taking part in secular matters without an 
express permission from the Sovereign Pontiff, would 
not receive this excuse, but took the opinions of the 
assembled Bishops upon the mode of treating the 
defaulter. The result was that he was cited to appear 
at the Council, in obedience to the Tridentine decrees. 
The Prelate was unable to resist this formal summons, 
and accordingly repaired in haste to Milan. The Car- 
dinal received him with open arms, and explained to 
him in the most affectionate terms the necessity under 
which he lay of doing his duty by the Apostolic See, 
and his Metropolitan Church. In this manner the 
saint so completely won him over that he gave up all 
participation in secular affairs, and resided at his see, 
at least during the remainder of the episcopate of St. 

On the occasion of holding a Council, he used to 
invite three Bishops of his province to deliver a sermon, 
assigning a separate day and subject to each. At the 
same time he addressed a pastoral letter to all the 
Bishops, to be read to their people, in order to stir 
them up to make preparation on their part for the 
Council by prayer, processions, good works, and the 
reception of the Holy Sacraments of Confession and 
Communion, as he wished all to take part in invoking 
the help of God on the work. In his own church he 

VOL. I. ^ 

210 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

was still more zealous. It was his practice to make a 
retreat of several days before tlie day fixed for the 
Council This time was spent in devout communing 
with God, in spiritual exercises, prayer and contempla- 
tion, accompanied by fasts, disciplines and vigils. It 
was his custom to allow himself about four hours' 
repose at night, but on these occasions he retrenched 
even from this, and spent nearly the whole night in 
prayer. It was his wish that all should receive Holy 
Communion for his intention on the Sunday before the 
appointed day. A plenary indulgence having been 
obtained was granted to all who, having confessed and 
communicated, should visit the Metropolitan church, 
and pray for the success of the Council. The day of 
this general Communion was also set apart for the 
devotion of the Fortv Hours in the same church, as 
capable of containing a larger number, in order that 
their prayers might be offered with greater fervour. 
All the chapters of the city clergy attended as distinct 
bodies, and the different religious orders and parochial 
clergy had hours assigned to each. Every hour there 
was a sermon from the pulpit, to enkindle devotion 
and fervour in their petitions. To ensure the hour of 
prayer being kept up during the whole time the 
Session lasted, he prescribed the time at which it 
should be taken up by each church. Besides all this, 
a continual succession of visits was kept up at the 
seven privileged churches, and for this purpose on each 
day the Council sat, a particular hour was assigned to 
each of the parishes of the city, in order that the faith- 
ful of the same might go thither in procession with 

His Second Praviiuial Council. 211 

their clergj and banners. All superiors, chapters, and 
rectors of the churches throughout the citj and diocese 
were also to institute a procession on the Sunday to 
invoke the assistance of the saints, and all priests had 
to say the Mass of the Holy Ghost, or at least the 
Collect belonging to it, every Thursday for this 

Before the arrival of the Bishops, the Cardinal was 
wont to hold one or more congregations of the clergy, 
at which he arranged all necessary matters concerning 
the celebration of the Council. Among these matters 
was the mode of receiving the Bishops and others who 
attended- Apartments in the Archbishop's palace were 
allotted to them and to their retinue; and each was 
provided for in accordance with his rank and position 
at the expense of the Cardinal. All was done with 
such order and propriety that, notwithstanding due 
economy was observed, all bore witness that they were 
as well cared for as when at home. 

When they drew near the city, he sent his Vicar- 
general and others to meet them at the distance of 
about three miles from the walls with mules laden 
with everything necessary for their solemn entry. 
This they did by his desire, giving their blessing to 
the people who thronged the roads as they passed. 
They were then conducted to the cathedral, where 
they were met by the Canons, who preceded them to 
the High Altar. Here they spent a short time in 
prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, returning, accom- 
panied in the same manner, by the door at which they 
had entered. 

212 Life of St. Charles Borroineo. 

When all the Bishops had arrived, four congrega- 
tions of Theologians, Canonists, Ecclesiastical rites 
and ceremonies, and of conventual discipline were 
formed. The Cardinal was surrounded in this way 
by the most eminent men in the province, for he 
had requested each Bishop to bring with him the two 
ecclesiastics of his diocese most skilled in theology 
and discipline. Two or three Bishops were deputed 
to preside over each congregation : they were to be 
present at the deliberations held every day upon the 
different matters before the Synod. When each 
subject had been maturely discussed and put to the 
vote, St. Charles proposed it to a secret congrega- 
tion of Bishops who held two sessions in the day. 
After they had again sifted and passed them by 
common consent, the decrees were drawn up and read 
before the public congregations held the day before 
the synodal session. When these decrees had received 
the assent of all the Bishops they were reckoned to 
have passed, and were promulgated on the following 
day by receiving once more the consent and approba- 
tion of the Bishops in the session held in the metro- 
politan church. If it happened that any of the 
matters proposed by the Cardinal were not agreeable to 
the Bishops, he would put them by for another time, as 
conscious by interior light that such measures, though 
misjudged now, would one day be properly appreciated. 
In subsequent councils they were again brought for- 
ward, and were always ultimately accepted. As time 
went on, the Bishops recognised more clearly the neces- 
sity for his reforms and were consequently more ready 

His Second Provincial Council. 213 

to adopt them. Their experience of his wisdom 
deepened year by year, and this, added to their own 
increased regularity of conduct, made them ready to 
further all his measures for the good of the province. 
In his latter years indeed, they were content to submic 
entirely to his judgment. 

The deliberations of the Council were interspersed 
with sermons and addresses in Latin, delivered by the 
Cardinal himself or by one of the Bishops, on the 
importance and fruit of the work in hand. The 
Bishops and their households were enjoined to fast 
on the day preceding the opening of the Council 
that they might be the better fitted to receive the 
grace of God. 

While these solemn exercises were taking place in 
the Council, in the cathedral three sermons a week 
by able preachers drew a large concourse of people. 
Twice a day there were lectures in the Archbishop's 
chapel, in the morning on ecclesiastical discipline, in 
the afternoon on the Psalms. These services were for 
the benefit of the clergy and others who came with 
the Bishops, as a preservative against idleness or 
unprofitable intercourse with seculars in the city. 
Every evening prayers were said in common in the 
same chapel, with music, and the points of the medita- 
tion for the next morning were read, all the Bishops 
attending together with the Cardinal St Charles 
also made a practice of seeing each Bishop in private, 
and made the most minute inquiries concerning the 
conduct of his affairs, private, domestic and diocesan. 
He inquired more particularly as to the acceptance in 

214 Z?/J? of St. Cliarles Borromeo. 

their several sees of the decrees of the Council of 
Treat and of such provincial councils as had already 
been held. One of the synodal decrees ruled that 
each Bishop should render an account to the Council 
of the revenues and emoluments of liis diocesa This 
provision the Cardinal was very particular to have 
duly carried out Certain ecclesiastics were appointed 
at each Council to investigate the administration of 
the revenue of each see, and make a report thereon 
to the congregation of the Bishops. This measure 
had a most beneficial effect, not only in procuring the 
equitable distribution of the revenues of which it took 
cognisance, to the great advantage of the poor ; but 
also by the example it set to clergy and people for 
the regulation of their affairs. 

St. Charles never missed the opportunity afforded 
him on these occasions of administering fatherly 
correction and advice to his suffragans. In cases 
where his admonitions did not appear to bear fruit 
he had recourse to the Holy Father, that by his 
supreme authority the Prelate might be brought back 
to a better mind. The care of the Bishops of his 
province was considered by St Charles to be among 
the most important of his duties, for he knew that upon 
the Bishops depended the well-being of their flocks. 

He was much grieved, on one occasion, to hear that 
one of the Bishops ^ had said that he had not enough 
to do. He was a man of considerable influence, both 
on account of his wealth, and the importance of his 

^ Cardinal Giovanni Delfino, Bishop of Brescia, xvbo died in 1584. He 
had been employed as Nuncio in France and Germany. 

His Second Provincial Council, 215 


see, wherein, however, he had shown little anxiety to 
promote the measures of reform advocated by St. 
Charles. The holy Archbishop, ardently desiring the 
salvation of his soul, sent Monsignor Antonio Seneca 
a distance of sixty miles to point out to the listless 
Bishop the various functions and obligations of his 
vocation. He was to impress upon him that his conse- 
cration had been no mere outward ceremonial, but the 
pledge of labours to be undergone for the salvation of 
the souls of his flock. Monsignor Seneca fulfilled his 
mission with ready zeal, but unhappily the dispositions 
of the Bishop were not favourable, as he received the 
envoy in a very bad spirit, and alleged that the 
Cardinal was going beyond his duty. St Charles felt 
keenly the imminent spiritual danger of his suffragan, 
and wrote him a letter urging forcibly upon him the 
importance of the office to which he had been called, 
and dwelling in detail upon the needs of his diocese, 
with all of which he had an intimate acquaintance. 
He was somewhat severe in his strictures upon his 
conduct, and added by way of reproof at the close 
of each subject: "After this, can a Bishop say he 
has nothing to do?" Neither would he receive any 
explanations from him, but earnestly begged him to 
confess his mistake. 

Some little time after this the Cardinal went to 
Home, to give an account to Gregory XIII. of a mission 
with which he had been entrusted. He took advan- 
tage of this opportunity to submit to the Pope a copy 
of the letters he had addressed to the Prelate, begging 
his Holiness to second them by a word from himself 

2 1 6 Life of St. Charles Borronteo. 

As the Bishop in question enjoyed the particular favour 
of His Holiness, the Holy Father was not slow to accede 
to this request, and by his apostolic warning the Prelate 
was moved to acknowledge his shortcomings, and, in a 
letter to Monsignor Seneca, he expressed his contrition 
for not having received the paternal admonitions of the 
Archbishop in a proper spirit. The assiduous care of 
St Charles in watching over the conduct of his suffra- 
gan Bishops was, by God's blessing, of inestimable 
advantage to the province. In his time they were 
true shepherds of souls, punctual in fulfilling all the 
duties of their calling, and their lives shone forth as 
bright examples, and many of them died in the 
odour of sanctitv. 

During the time of the Council, St. Charles liked to 
make personal acquaintance with each Bishop. He 
treated them with the greatest courtesy, and won their 
regard and affection. He always joined them at the 
morning repast, which aU took in common, and which, 
while moderate and frugal, was suitable and sufficient 
Whilst their bodies were refreshed by food, their souls 
were strengthened by the reading of a spiritual book, or 
by a discourse from one of the clerics of the seminary. 

Many of the Bishops were in the habit of coming to 
Milan several days before the opening of the Council, 
and of remaining after its close, in order that they might 
enjoy the benefit of familiar intercourse with the Car- 
dinal. He on his side, did not suffer them to be idle, 
but gave to each some function or occupation in the 
service of the Church, in accordance with their several 
capacities and inclinations. He used indeed to defer a 

His Second Provincial Council. 2 1 7 

number of episcopal functions in his cathedral to the 
time of this meeting of Bishops, such as the cloth- 
ing or profession of nuns, the administration of the 
Sacrament of Confirmation, and the consecration of 
altars. He begged their assistance also in preaching, 
holding spiritual conferences, and in giWng lectures on 
spiritual subjects in his colleges and seminaries. One 
special function was always reserved for these occasions, 
viz., the translation of the relics of the saints, with a 
view to the increase of devotion in the Bishops them- 
selves towards holy relics, as well as to honour the latter 
by the greater solemnity given by such an array of the 
pastors of the Church. These good Prelates returned 
to their homes filled with a share of the burning zeal 
and fervour of their metropolitan. 

At the conclusion of the Council, which usuallv 
lasted about three weeks, St Charles sent copies of 
the decrees to Home by the hands of a Prelate for the 
inspection of the Supreme Pontifif. On the occasion of 
this second Council, he made choice of Monsignor Fran- 
cesco Bonomo,^ of Cremona, Abbot of Xonantola. This 
despatch was accompanied by a letter in the name of 
all the Bishops who had assisted at the Council, form- 
ally submitting all their decrees to the judgment of His 
Holiness, to be corrected and amended by him accord- 
ing as he should deem expedient. On receiving the 
confirmation of the Pope, they were printed, copies 
being sent to all the Bishops that they might put them 
in force in their several dioceses. 

1 Afterwftnls Bishop of VerceUi, and Noneio to Switzerland and 

2 1 8 Life of St. Charles JBorromeo. 

During the nineteen years that St Charles presided 
in person over the metropolitan see of Milan, he held 
six provincial councils according to the Tridentine 
decrees, that they should be held every three years. 

A Cardinal ^ of high standing, afterwards called to the 
chair of St. Peter, gave it as his opinion that the mul- 
tiplication of Councils might at last prove burdensome. 
On hearing this, St Charles made reply, that as it was 
the order of the Council of Trent that the ancient dis- 
cipline should be restored, he considered himself under 
the obligation of continuing to hold Councils till his pro- 
vince should be brought back to that model. He added : 
" I am not only holding these Councils for the sake of 
the present time, but for the benefit of my successors 
for many years to come." We have seen his words ful- 
filled to the letter, for seven-and-twenty years elapsed 
before the next Council was held by his illustrious suc- 
cessor, Cardinal Frederic Borromeo, his cousin, in 1609. 

Truly it is surprising that with all the burden of 
other affairs, the saint yet could do so much in this 
way, and we can only account for it by the zeal and 
the Divine Spirit by which he was animated. 

The measures proposed and perfected in his councils 
have served as the model of reforms throughout the 
sees of Christendom, the means of guiding countless 
souls in the way of salvation, and more than any- 
thing else, have given effect to the decrees of the 
holy Council of Trent, and have thus been of incal- 
culable service to Holy Church. 

* Nicol6 Sf rondrato, Bishop of Cremona, afterwards Gregory XIV. 

( 219 ) 




During his residence in Eome in the time of his 
uncle Pius IV., St. Charles had many opportunities of 
making acquaintance with the Order of Regular Clerks 
called Theatines. He had often gone to their house 
at San Silvestro, on the Esquiline, for the purpose of 
spiritual refreshment, and in this way had formed a 
high opinion of their merits. He had become ac- 
quainted there with Guglielmo Sirletto,^ a learned 
man who was made a Cardinal by Pius IV., at the 
recommendation of the saint. The zeal of these 
Fathers for the salvation of souls, and their labours in 
the pulpit and confessional, made him desirous of 
having them in his diocese. Through his negotiations 
with the superiors of the Order, fourteen religious 
were sent to Milan. The Cardinal assigned to them 

> Bom At GaardATille in CaUbrU in 15x4, wu Librmrimn of ih« 
Vatieao, aidited in th« reform of ih« Bonuin Miwal and BrcTimry, and 
in the preparation of tho Vallate Tenion of tlie Bibia and of tha 
Catachism of tha Conndl of Trent, dying in the jear 1585 at tha ago 
of 71. 

220 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

in the first instance the Church of Santa Maria near 
San Calimero in Porta Bomana, with the house 
attached to it They were precluded by their rule 
from possessing anything either in particular or in 
common, and depended on the alms of the faithful 
without going out to beg. When they arrived in 
Milan in 1570, the saint furnished the house for 
them, and gave them requisites for the service of 
their Church, till the charity of the people came to 
their assistance. The church and living of St Anthony, 
then held by Monsignor Marsilio Landriano,^ was 
afterwards given to them, with greater advantage both 
to themselves and to the people. The Cardinal was 
greatly consoled at their success, and the citizens 
welcomed the arrival of the priests, labourers so fervent 
in working for the salvation of souls. St Charles 
always held them in high esteem as cherished fellow- 

He likewise introduced into Milan the Fathers of 
the Society of Jesus, to whom he gave the church 
of St. Fidelis. These Fathers had accomplished so 
much good among the people by means of their 
sermons and labours in the confessional that the build- 
ing could no longer contain the concourse of people 
who gathered around them, and the need of providing a 
new church was recognised. The Cardinal resolved to 

^ Afterwards Bishop of Vigevano. 

3 St. Andrew AvelllDO appears to have accompanied these Fathers to 
MUan on this occasion. This saint was born in 1520 at Castro KnoTo, 
in the kingdom of Naples, entered the community of Kegular Clerks or 
Theatines in 1556, and after persevering in the same for fifty-two years, 
died at the age of 88 in z6o8. He was canonised by Pope Clement XL, 
circ. 17 10. 

Lays the Foundation of San Fedcle. 221 

rebuild the edifice from its foundation, and instructed 
the architect Peregrine to prepare a design. On the 
Sth July 1569, he blessed the foundation-stone, 
going in solemn procession from the Cathedral, ac- 
companied by the Governor and Senate and a large 
assemblage, where he sung Mass and preached on the 
glory of erecting a sanctuary to God. 

The following inscription was graven on the stone : — 




St Charles contributed generously to the building 
fund, and stirred up the people by his example to 
similar liberality. It was by alms alone that it be- 
came as we now see it, odc of the most considerable 
churches of the country, and a lasting memorial of the 
generosity of the saint 

1 Charles Boiromeo, Cftrdiiud Priest of the Holj Roman Charoh, 
Archbiihop of MiUn. dedicated to God this first stone at the rebuilding 
of the chnroh of St Fidelis the Martyr, on the 5th daj of Julj, 1569. 



( 222 ) 




Although the dispute concerning jurisdiction bad been 
suffered to sleep for awhile, doubtless by the permission 
of God that His servant might have time to work, yet 
the enemy of mankind was still on the alert to stir 
up plots against the saint On this occasion his 
instruments were certain persons who had taken um- 
brage at the Governor of Milan because he lived in 
terms of friendship with the Cardinal, and had suffered 
the officers of his Court to exercise their functions 
without impediment Under cover of zeal for the 
royal prerogative, they took advantage of his good- will 
to accuse him of lukewarmness in the service of his 
royal master, and of suffering those privileges to be 
infringed which it was his duty to maintain in their 
integrity. The satanic cunning of this intrigue was 
soon apparent If there was one part of his duty on 
which the Governor more especially prided himself, it 
was the exact performance of the obligations of his 

Meets with fresh Opposition. 223 

office. Disturbed by the dread of being found wanting 
in anything that concerned the honour of the King, 
he imagined that some public act was necessary on 
his part in order to assert the royal jurisdiction. Under 
the advice of these crafty plotters he published an 
edict on the penalties incurred by all who in any 
way infringed the aforesaid jurisdiction. At first sight 
it might not have seemed that the edict was directed 
against the liberties of the Church, but experience 
soon proved the contrary. Notaries and other laymen, 
imperfectly acquainted with the limits of the jurisdic- 
tion of the Church courts, began to be very chary 
of prosecuting any suit at all in them lest they 
should unwittingly incur the threatened penalties. 
The Archbishop's courts were thus indirectly circum- 
scribed in their rights, and the saint was in conse- 
quence much troubled. Not only was the course of 
business disturbed, but a settled purpose, however 
glossed over, was evinced of interfering with the 
liberties of the Church. His sorrow . reached its 
climax when a rumour was spread abroad to the efifect 
that he had himself given occasion for the promulga- 
tion of this edict It was said that he had affronted 
the Governor on St Bartholomew's Day by closing 
against him the church dedicated to that saint 
Nothing could be more perverse than this statement 
St Charles had indeed closed the church on that day, 
but the order was dictated solely by his zeal for the 
honour of God; for the people instead of keeping 
the festival properly made it the occasion of a public 
fair, with much that was unseemly and unbecoming. 

224 L^f^ of St. Charles JBorromeo. 

The Cardinal could not overlook these scandals, or 
neglect to provide against them. Far from taking 
ofifence, the Governor was heard, on the contrary, to 
commend his zeal. 

St. Charles was perfectly aware of the storm that 
would fall upon Iiis head if he ofifered any opposition 
to the new edict. He was aware also of the influence 
of the power arrayed against him. With this full 
consciousness, therefore, of what he had to expect he 
set himself to assert boldly the independence of the 
ecclesiastical power. In his heart he preferred to lay 
down his life rather than surrender the trust which 
God had committed to his charge. 

While the saint was preparing himself by prayer 
for the approaching contest, the devil planned a new 
assault by means of certain ecclesiastics whom the saint 
had occasion to reform. There was a collegiate church 
and chapter at Milan imder the title of Santa Maria 
della Scala, which had been founded by Beatrice della 
Scala, wife of Bemabd Visconti, lord of Milan, and was 
called after her name.^ The dukes of Milan had the 
right of presentation to the canonries. The dukedom 
being now in abeyance, the patronage consequently was 
in the hands of the King of Spain. The chapter had 
been considerably enriched by the benefactions of 
Francesco II., Sforza, duke of Milan, who procured 
several privileges from the Apostolic See in the year 
1531. Among these was a bull exempting it from 
the jurisdiction of the Archbishop, provided, however, 

1 The celebrated Theatre of La Scala was built on the site of this 
Charch in 1777. 

Meets with fresh Opposition. 225 

that he should give his consenti as clearly appears 
from the following clause ; ^^ Si veneraiilis frcUris nostri 
modemi archiepiscopi Mediolani expressus ad id aceesserit 
assensm.'* ^ As neither the Archbishop at that time 
nor his successor had given the required assent, this 
permission remained a dead letter. 

When St Charles came with his clergy to visit 
this church in its turn, the Canons immediately began 
to make opposition* There were some indeed who 
would willingly have submitted, but the majority denied 
his authority over them by virtue of the privilege we 
have cited. The Cardinal entertained a grave sus- 
picion of the validity of this claim, and ascertained 
after consulting authorities that his suspicion was well 
grounded, and that the Canons were clearly in the 
wrong. Notwithstanding this opinion in his favour, 
the Cardinal would not do anything without submitting 
it in the first instance to the judgment of the Sove- 
reign Pontifif. He gave his Holiness all necessary 
information on which to found his decision, and 
abstained from saying a word which could bias him 
in any way. Having examined and weighed the 
claim of the Archbishop and the pretensions of the 
Chapter, the Pope through Monsignor Ormaneto, whom 
he had sometime before called to Eome on business 
of the Apostolic See, decided that the right of the 
Archbishop to visit the Church of La Scala whenever 
he thought proper was dear and indisputable. Still, 
St Charles would do nothing that could be deemed 

1- " Prorided that th« expren pcnninion of our Teoerable brother, the 
Archbishop of Milan for the time beiiij;, thaU haye been obtained.* 

VOL. L ^ 

226 Life of Si. Charles Borromeo. 

hasty, and allowed two months to pass before taking 
any further step. The Chapter, therefore, had ample 
time to reconsider their conduct, and might have sub- 
mitted with good grace to the Archbishop, since they 
could not but acknowledge that his right was now 

The patience of St Charles did not produce the 
effect he had hoped. Far from recognising the good- 
will he bore them, the Canons persisted in their obdu- 
rate resistance to his authority. About this time the 
Archbishop's Vicar-General had been forced to pro- 
ceed against one of the ecclesiastics of this church. 
Still adhering to their erroneous allegation of exemp- 
tion from archiepiscopal jurisdiction, the Canons de- 
termined to excommunicate him, and deputed one 
Giovanni Pietro Barbesta, a priest of Pavia, to carry 
out their intention. He was a worthy instrimient 
for such a design, for, being ignorant of the facts and 
wanting in learning and judgment, he could not appre- 
ciate the merits of the case on which he was appointed 
to pronounce, and was capable, as will be shown, of lend- 
ing himself to still greater scandals. Meanwhile he 
performed all that was required of him, by pronounc- 
ing excommunication against the Archbishop's Vicar- 
general, and also his Attorney-general, as guilty of 
contempt of apostolic authority, and published the 
certificates of the act of exconmiunicatiou in the places 
of public resort The Canons had done well in making 
choice of this man : for no one of any discretion would 
have committed such a blunder. They relied also on 
having the support of the public officers of the King, 

Meets with fresh Opposition. 227 

Tinder whose immediate jurisdiction they professed to 
be. They had some grounds for this expectation on 
account of the late edict on the royal prerogative. 

Meanwhile St. Charles had been weighing the dif- 
ficulties in which he was involved. All other con- 
siderations gave way before the expressed wish of the 
Pope that he should make his visitation of the church. 
He resolved to do so regardless of danger, for he was 
ready at all times to ofifer up himself in defence of the 
rights of God and of His Church. 

*In pursuance of this decision, he sent a formal 
notice on the morning of the 30th August, 1569, by 
Monsignor LodoWco Moneta, to announce his approach- 
ing visit to the Canons. On receiving this intelligence 
they abruptly concluded the ofl&ce they were singing, 
barred the doors of the church, and withdrew to the 
churchyard, without even waiting to take off their 
choir-habits. The most turbulent among them was a 
Calabrian, Marcantonio Patanella,^ who had been the 
leading spirit all throughout the opposition offered to 
the Archbishop. No sooner had Moneta announced 
his mission than this man got up and arrogantly 
declared that the church and the clergy were sub- 
ject only to the King, and that the Archbishop had 
no sort of jurisdiction over it or them ; adding that 
he would advise the Cardinal to be cautious how he 
comported himself in this matter, lest he should court 
his own destruction. He bade him also not to forget 
the severe edicts lately published against those who 

^ Tbif mm held a pott in Miluk ai "regio eoonomo^'* probablj eol- 
leetor, or trtiiur«r of royal duM. 

228 Life of SL Charles Borromeo. 

infringed his Majesty's rights. Moneta paid no atten- 
tion to this harangue, but turned to the other Canons and 
asked their opinion, for he was aware that there were 
some among them of better dispositions. The minister 
of Satan drowned their replies by noisy talk, and suc- 
ceeded in irritating the rest against Moneta, whom they 
drove out with yells, without regard either for himself 
or his office. 

Before many days the Archbishop, undaunted by 
their violence towards liis messenger, presented him- 
self at their gate in pursuance of his notice. He was 
mounted, and vested in the pontifical habit he was 
wont to wear at a visitation. But the same evil 
temper still prevailed. They had, moreover, as- 
sociated with them on this occasion a number of 
laymen, armed for the express purpose of oppos- 
ing the visitation by force. St. Charles then dis- 
mounted from his mule, and took the Cross into his 
own hand, in order to pronounce the sentence of ex- 
communication, hoping that as Christians and priests 
they would reverence the sign of salvation and the 
person of their Archbishop. But these wretched men, 
blinded by Satan, had cast ofif all fear of God and re- 
spect for His minister. Their lay supporters rushed 
upon the Cardinal, brandishing their arms wildly, and 
shouting, " Spain ! Spain ! " Then, with violence, they 
closed the door of the church against him. The 
Cardinal met all this clamour like a lamb, and their 
outrages failed to draw one bitter word in reply. With 
his eyes fixed on the crucifix, he recommended himself 
and these misguided men to God. The witnesses who 

Meets with fresh Opposition. 229 

were examined in the process of his canonisation deposed 
that he was several times in great jeopardy from the 
shots of the Canons' supporters, and that the Cross 
which he held in his hand was injured. His Vicar- 
general, Consignor Giovanni Battista Castello, who 
accompanied him, set up a public notice that the 
Canons had incurred the censures of the Church by 
their violence, and, notwithstanding his official cha- 
racter, they treated him with equal contumely, driving 
him away with blows and cries, and tearing down the 
notices. To crown all, they insolently set up Barbesta 
to declare the Cardinal himself deprived of his sacred 
functions for having contemned the authority of the 
Apostolic See, having the bells rung and notices posted 
in public to give greater notoriety to their act. 

( 230 ) 




The conduct of the Canons of La Scala had scandalized 
not only the friends of St. Charles, but even those who 
were not warmly inclined towards his administration. 
All therefore were unanimous in censuring them for 
their insolence towards their Archbishop. The saint 
grieved that there should be men who had dedicated 
themselves to God so lost to a sense of their obliga- 
tions as to rage in such guise against their pastor. He 
was disposed to treat with moderation the insult offered 
to himself, observing that it was no new thing for the 
servants of God to suffer affliction, and that they had 
ever been hated by the world, even as our Divine 
Lord had predicted : non est disdpiUus super Toagistrum ; 
si me persecuti sunt, et vos perseqicentur} 

But he felt bound notwithstanding, to exercise his 
authority in the defence of the rights of his office. 
Accordingly, after spending some time in prayer before 
the Blessed Sacrament, he confirmed the sentence of 

1 *'The disciple it not above his master; if they haye persecuted me, 
thej^ wj]] persecute jou also " (St. John xv. 20). 

Subsequent Action of St. C/tarles. 231 

ezcommunicatioii which had already been published 
by his Vicar-general, making special mention of 
Patanella who had been the chief actor in the last 
outrage, as well as of all those whose names were 
known to him, as having incurred the penalties 
mentioned in the sacred Canons, and particularly in 
the Constitution of Boniface VIIL, concerning offenders 
against members of the Sacred College. He then 
gave notice of their offence in writing to the Governor 
and Senate, bidding them observe that if they had 
been in any way accessory to it, they also had thereby 
incurred the censure of the Church. He likewise 
informed the Holy Father of what had occurred, as 
a matter of great moment, demanding the special 
assistance of the apostolic authority, and that the late 
edict promulgated by the Governor called for some 
decision on the part of the Pope, in order to clear 
away embarrassments caused by late events. Mon- 
signor Cesare Speciano, one of the Canons of the 
Cathedral and a member of his household, was charged 
to lay this matter at the feet of his Holiness. The 
Pope was indignant at the unworthy conduct of the 
Canons of La Scala, and declared all that Barbesta had 
done was null and void, and cited Patanella and 
others to appear at Bome. PataneUa started for 
Bome, bent on disputing the proceedings, but died a 
miserable death on the journey. One of the laymen 
who had shot at the Cross came to a like end, dying 
suddenly at an inn at Lambrate, whither he had gone 
a few days after his outrage. 

Speciano energetically pleaded the cause of the 

232 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

Archbishop. The Pope ordered that it should be 
thoroughly discussed. He was heard to say that when 
it was a question of defending or asserting the rights 
of Cardinal Borromeo, he was bound not to spare 
even his own life ; speaking of the Cardinal as single- 
minded in the service of God and His Church, whose 
zeal always proceeded from a pure source, and was 
kindled by his keen perception of the obligation under 
which he lay of labouring in the service of His Divine 
Master. He also embodied these sentiments in two 
letters addressed to the Governor of Milan on the 
subject of La Scala, as will be seen in the next 
chapter. His Holiness was inclined to leave the 
aflFair in some measure to the action of time, that 
powerful healer of differences. St. Charles knew well 
that he could rely upon the good-will of the Holy 
Father and that the rights of his see were safe, but 
at the same time did not omit to take such measures 
as prudence suggested for the furtherance of the cause. 
He wrote to all among his friends, who were in a 
position to render assistance, in a spirit of moderation 
and wholly free from any murmur at the tardiness of 
the proceedings. Neither did he recriminate upon 
his opponents, but on the contrary, excused them 
whenever possible, drawing attention to the fact that 
many of the King's ministers were not to be confounded 
with the oftcndcrs, as upright and sincere in their 
intentions and prevented from acting upon their con- 
viction by circumstances beyond their controL 

Yet thcro were times when the servant of God was 
disturbed in mind because of these contentior" '"'^ 

Subsequent Action of St. Cliarles. 233 

would consider within himself whether the obstruc- 
tions he daily met with, and the disputes that arose 
were not owing to some fault of his own, and the 
words of the prophet Jonas rose to his lips: TollUe 
me, et mittite in mare, ct cessabit mare a vobis} Not 
only was he ready to make any personal sacrifice for 
the good of his see, but his natural disposition in- 
clined him to prefer the tranquillity of private life 
to the cares of the pastoral office, had not the desire 
of conforming himself to the good pleasure of God 
kept him stedfast in his work. He saw it was a 
question of the maintenance of his episcopal authority, 
which evil-doers and others wished to restrain, and 
determined to stand or fall by his prerogatives, and 
rather to die than suffer loss to the souls he loved. 
All this time, efforts were being made to force or 
cajole his friends and counsellors to forsake him, and 
he was strenuously urged, even by his relatives, to yield 
the point 

Not for an instant did he waver in his trust in the 
goodness of God, and in the justice of the Holy Father. 
He placed much reliance also on the good dispositions 
which the Catholic King had always evinced towards 
the Church, and he took care to explain the state 
of the case to him, as his opponents had written to 
Spain to injure his credit with the King. The mem- 
bers of the Boyal Council, in particular, were assured 
by these men that the Cardinal was actuated by differ- 
ent motives from those which he gave out to be his 

1 «i f^^}^^ g,^ mj([ cMt me into the Ma, and the tea ihall be etlm to jou " 
(Jonas i. xa). 

234 Life of St. Charles Borronteo. 

guiding principles ; and that it would be impossible to 
maintain the royal jurisdiction in Milan, or indeed to 
govern the province at all, if he should be allowed to 
stay there. Those and similar insinuations were so 
industriously spread abroad, that the saint at last 
found it necessary to contradict them, lest the King 
should really be deceived by these devices, and be led 
to give some decision adverse to the rights and in- 
terests of the Church. 

The saint was intimately acquainted with the Arch- 
bishop of Rossano, Giovanni Battista Castagna,^ who 
was the Apostolic nuncio in Spain. To him St. 
Charles addressed himself to explain the singleness 
of his intention and his devotion to his Majesty, and 
begging his good offices with the latter against 
calumny and prejudice. The Archbishop laid the 
facts before the King, showing that the trouble at 
Milan had been in no way caused by any fault of the 
Cardinal, and that the affection of the latter for his 
Majesty, made him ready to prove in every way his 
sense of the favours bestowed on his father, and on his 
brother. He had indeed given proof of his gratitude 
whenever occasion had offered during his stay in Rome. 
He urged that there was not the slightest foundation 
in fact for the accusation of double-dealing which had 
been brought against Cardinal Borromeo, alleging that 
he was incapable of entering into such schemes, and 
that it was proved by his disinterestedness in renounc- 
ing so many honourable posts, in order that he might 
be free to attend to the service of God. Before acting 

* Afterwards Urban VII., 1590. 

Subsequent Aciian of St. Charles. 235 

he had taken counsel of prudent advisers, and could 
not be accused of lightly formed judgment Still less 
could he be held to have been indifferent to being in 
unity and peace with the royal functionaries, for it was 
manifest that he had sought concord by ever}" reasonable 
means. He urged that the edict of the Governor was 
published in contravention of the rights of the clergy, 
and gave a complete narrative of the affair of La 
Scala, showing that the right of visiting claimed by 
the Archbishop clashed in no way with the royal 
jurisdiction ; that the powers he desired to exercise 
concerning the chapter were purely spiritual ; and that 
as he only had in view the good of souls, his measures 
of reform could not but advance the royal authority, 
since government never was more secure than when 
the people lived in the observance of discipline and in 
the fear of God. The King, after listening graciously 
and giving the matter deliberate consideration, decided 
in favour of the Cardinal. 

( 236 ) 




The Canons of La Scala, perceiving that matters were 
not going so smoothly as they had anticipated, once 
more addressed themselves to the officers of the Eling, 
and begged them to assert the royal right of patronage 
over the foundation. Those among them who were the 
most opposed to the Cardinal entered readily into the 
proposal, and contrived so efifectually to work upon the 
mind of the Governor, that he at last believed it part 
of his duty to accede to their request, for the defence 
of the royal prerogative. They also contrived to under- 
mine his good opinion of St. Charles, persuading him 
that the saint was an ambitious and turbulent prelate 
whom it was necessary to check lest the whole of Milan 
should fall into his grasp. 

The Governor became the tool of these malicious 
men, and wrote to the Pope, repeating all the false 
charges they had made against the Cardinal, complain- 
ing that by unreasonable innovations he was setting all 
Milan by the ears ; adding that unless the Pope would 
check him, he should be compelled to banish the Car- 

Two Briefs of Pope Pius V. 237 

dinal for the sake of the peace of the State. To this 
he added a petition that his Holiness would allow the 
case of the Canons of La Scala to be argued before some 
judge in Milan instead of at Borne, alleging a Bull of 
Leo X. in favour of this exemption. 

The Holy Father was not slow to recognise in these 
charges new machinations of Satan against tlie Car- 
diuaL Actuated by the independence which has ever 
characterised the Pontiffs in matters concerning their 
pastoral office, he did not shrink from administering 
the rebuke he deemed necessary, and addressed the 
two following letters to him : — 

First Brief of Pius V., of liohj memory, to the Governor of 


"Beloved Son, health, and apostolic benediction. 
The misunderstanding which has arisen between Our 
weU-beloved son, Charles Cardinal Borromeo, and the 
Canons of Santa Maria della Scala, to which your Excel- 
lency refers in your letter of the first of September, has 
for many reasons filled Us with deep concern. 

" First, We are grieved to see the dignity of the Car- 
dinalate, so near to Us and to Our apostolic See, treated 
with so little consideration, and especially that those 
who have been guilty of this unseemly conduct are 
ecclesiastics, who were bound to defend and hold it in 
honour, had it been impugned by others. 

" Next, We grieve because there are many unworthy 
men who take advantage of occasions such as these in 
order to push their aggressive designs. Nothing serves 
their purpose better than a dispute between members 

238 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

of the hierarchy, particularly when they can induce 
men high in secular authority to give them their 
countenance and support. It need hardly be said 
that a pastor of the Church cannot be offended with- 
out that offence being felt by Her supreme Head. If 
the Canons had any valid claims to maintain against 
the Cardinal, they should have proceeded in tlie 
courts of law, and not by violence and force of 
arms. But as We imderstand the case, it would seem 
that the right of visitation really appertained to the 
Cardinal, and that they have suffered themselves to 
be led astray by the devil, who is ever plotting to mar 
the good undei-standing which is wont to reign among 
the ministers of the Church. They have so greatly 
exceeded their powers and prejudiced the Cardinal, 
that We are bound to use the authority committed to 
Us by God in restraint of the sinfulness of man, and 
to award them the chastisement they appear to have 
merited. In which matter We count upon the co- 
operation of your Excellency, as we cannot think that 
you would lend your aid to screen them from the cor- 
rection they have deserved. 

" With regard to the differences which have arisen 
between you and the Cardinal, We will shortly send 
you a Nuncio who will make known to you more fully 
all Our sentiments upon the subject. He will also 
acquaint you with certain considerations affecting the 
government of the province, as well as the rights and 
liberties of the Church. 

" Touching the allegation of your Excellency, that the 
Cardinal has been precipitate and injudicious in his 

Two Briefs of Pope Pius V. 239 

administration, though We should desire to give all due 
weight to your opinion, We cannot but form Our own 
estimate of him, upon his counsels and action during 
the pontificate of our predecessor, Pius IV., of happy 
memory. His conduct then was far from conveying 
this idea of his character, nor have We ever heard that 
any held such an opinion of him. Were it indeed so, 
it would be scarcely credible that he should not have 
been betrayed into some exhibition of it during the 
time he has governed his diocesa To Us it seems 
indeed a hard case. It has pleased Almighty Grod to 
bestow upon your city of Milan a pastor, whose every 
desire is devoted to the souls committed to his charge, 
and whose only aim is to reform the evil customs that 
have obtained among them. Now, the very persons 
who are more especially bound to reverence and support 
him, turn against him, and reproach him with charges 
which have not so much as a shadow of foundation. 
This is in conformity with the Word of Truth itself 
by the mouth of the Apostle that : ' All who will live 
godly in Christ Jesus shall sufifer persecution.' There 
remains for them this consolation that the fruit thereof 
is sweet, and its end glorious if they accept it willingly 
for the sake of His holy name. 

*' Given at Rome, at the Palace of St Peter, this 

tenth day of September, 1 5 69, in the fourth 

year of Our Pontificate." 

Second Brief. 

"Beloved Son, — In answering your two letters of 
the 28 th September, We will strive to bear in mind the 

240 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

dignity of Our office, and the admonition of the Apostle, 
both of which alike warn Us to lay aside vain disputa- 
tions, and to treat only of those things which are 
necessary. There would appear to be much in these 
letters which it will be better to excuse with the affec- 
tion of a father rather than require an explanation. 
For, seeing We have a sincere affection for your Ex- 
cellency, We desire that you should receive Our word, 
even as it is written, and give it due weight. For We 
have had in view the benefit of your soul as well as 
the defence of truth and justice, and We pray Our 
divme Lord that He will dispose your heart to receive 
it in the spirit of fatherly charity in which We write. 

"To begin with that part of your letter in which 
you have said so much on the conduct and capacity 
of the Cardinal, We assure you from Our heart that 
had We not by other testimony a perfect acquaintance 
with his life and character, as well as with the matter 
to which you refer, We should have been led by the 
statements you have made to entertain grievous and 
unjust misgivings concerning his integrity. 

" As We know him well, We can come to no other 
conclusion than that the affair is the work of the 
enemy of mankind, whose perpetual object it is to 
foment strife and disunion where concord and harmony 
have prevailed, and to mar that which is fair and 
upright He has not been slow to perceive the happi- 
ness that would have arisen had your Excellency and 
the Cardinal continued of one mind, and united in will 
and deed ; with inveterate malice he has set himself to 
undermine the fair structure by his lying deceits ; the 

Two Briefs of Pope Pius V. 241 

greater the fervour with which the servant of God 
pursues his labours, so much the craftier are his 
machinations against him. We cannot be blind to 
his arts who have seen them reproduced from age to 
age. It was thus he stirred up the envy of the Jews 
to compass the death of our Eedeemer; it was thus 
that, by a multitude of false accusations, he tormented 
the soldiers of the Cross. But the eternal wisdom of 
the counsels of God has ever confounded his wiles, 
and foiled him with his own weapons. For which 
cause it is Our duty to warn you not to be led astray 
by craftiness, and We bid you take heed lest that which 
you deem you have undertaken in good faith in support 
of the royal authority should, by a hidden judgment of 
God's justice, turn to its overthrow. 

" As to the request you urge so constantly, that We 
should permit the cause of the Canons of La Scala to 
be argued before a Milanese court. We regret that 
it is impossible for us to comply with it For it has 
alwap been the custom of the Apostolic See to take 
cognisance of the more important causes, and what 
cause can be more important than one involving a 
Cardinal of the Holy Eoman Church, the nearest 
dignity to Us and to the Holy See. Concerning the 
apostolic letters from Our beloved son, his Catholic 
Majesty, in which it is shown that Our predecessor, 
Leo X., ordered that the affairs of the province of 
Milan should always be heard before the courts of 
that province. We observe, that even were it so, it 
appertains to Us to modify the concessions of Our 
predecessors according to the exigencies of the times, 

VOL. I. ^ 

242 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

and that it would hence be nothing new or unjust did 
We make the present case an exception from the 
general rule, if we judged that times and persons 
rendered that course advisable. But there is no need 
for this, for these very letters apostolic expressly 
exempt from their provision not only all cases affect- 
ing Cardinals, but also those relating to ecclesiastical 

"As to the threats in which your Excellency 
indulges of expelling the Cardinal from the city and 
state of Milan on account of your zeal for the jinis- 
diction of the King, We might indeed call you to 
account for this on the ground of equity and justice ; 
but We will only admonish you in fatherly affection 
to take heed to your ways, lest you wilfully plunge 
yourself in straits whence you may hardly find a way 
of escape. Beware then lest this pretext of defending 
the royal jurisdiction prove not a snare in which you 
may be taken as so many before you, for it is not 
many years since a governor of Milan incurred the 
censures of the Church by a similar error. The same 
being afterwards sent as ambassador to our prede- 
cessor, Paul III., was stopped on his journey by 
an order forbidding him to enter Eome under pen- 
alty of imprisonment His peace was made with 
the Pope by the intervention of one of the Car- 
dinals, but before the news reached him, and he 
could be absolved, he was suddenly called to his 
account. This was permitted by God that others 
might learn from this example that He would suffer 
no man to thrust himself sacrilegiously into the affairs 

Two Briefs of Pope Pius V. 243 

of His holy service. Bear in mind, moreover, that 
while imperilling your own soul, great glory would 
accrue to the Cardinal were he permitted to suffer 
exile in defence of the prerogatives and the liberties 
of the Church ; and should he even shed his blood in 
the cause, he would rejoice that God had so honoured 
him. But for yourself eternal disgrace would be 
your reward for the share you had taken therein. 

" We have judged it well to write tlius to you, both 
out of the fatherly affection We bear you and also 
in the exercise of the pastoml office laid upon Us by 
God. We trust that in this, as well as in all other 
matters which touch the freedom and dignity of the 
Church, your Excellency will do that which shall bear 
witness to your piety and zeal for the Catholic faith. 

"Given in Home at St Peter's, the 8th day of 
October, 1569, in the fourth year of Our 


( 244 ) 



October 26th, 1569. 

We have already had occasioa to mention the various 
efforts made by some in authority among the Umiliati 
to abolish the reforms set on foot by St. Charles, and 
to return to their former condition. Perceiving at last 
that they would never succeed in turning him from 
his purpose by ordinary means, they listened to the 
suggestions of Satan, and determined if possible to 
take away his life. 

The conspirators were three in number: Girolamo 
Legnano, rector of the Church of St. Christopher at 
Vercelli ; Lorenzo Campagna, rector of Caravaggio ; and 
Clemente Mirisio, rector of St. Bartholomew in Verona. 
Its execution was committed to a certain priest^ of 
the same order, Girolamo Donate, sumamed Farina. 
He was but too willing to undertake the office, like a 
Judas, on consideration of a bribe of forty crowns. 
The only difficulty was to procure the money; for 
this there were but two ways open to them, both 

1 The legal records of the court caU him Deacon only. — O. 


Conspiracy of tlu UmiliatL 245 

involving the commission of a crime : either to steal 
the silver vessels and ornaments of the Church of 
Brera, the principal establishment of the Order in 
Milan, or to rob the treasury appointed by the new 
constitutions for the common funds of the brotherhood. 
The votes were in the first instance, given in favour 
of the second plan, and for this purpose an attempt 
was made to burst open the door where the money 
was kept. In this they failed, and then resolved to 
strangle the treasurer and take the keys. Brother 
Fabio Simoneta, the treasurer, was a pious man and 
good religious : and when they tried to execute their 
evil intentions upon him, they found him at prayer in 
the Church. "Whilst they disputed among themselves 
as to who should put the rope round his neck, our 
Lord in compassion for His faithful servant con- 
founded their plans, so that they could not agree, 
and they came away baiBed. At last Farina 
himself found means to make away with some 
of the sacred vessels of the Church of Brera 
which he sold; he then disguised himself in a 
secular dress, and travelled from place to place, 
spending the proceeds of his sacrilege in licentious 
living. When it was all spent, he stole a weapon 
wherewith to effect the murder. This was about the 
time of the dispute with the officers of the Crown, 
who. Farina hoped, would be suspected of the homicide. 
He therefore hailed this as a favourable opportunity, 
and after some deliberation resolved to shoot the 
Cardinal as he was going to the Church of St 
Barnabas to say Mass. This attem^^t ^i^kci.^^ n^c^ 

246 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

Oratory of the Archbishop's Palace was chosen for 
the attempt 

We have already mentioned the practice of the 
Cardinal of spending an hour in prayer with his 
household in the community room, after the Angelus. 
This room is now the chief apartment of the Bishop, 
but it was at that time fitted up as a chapel because 
the Oratory was in course of construction. Other 
devout persons of the city were admitted to these 
gatherings, and on a certain Wednesday evening, the 
26th of October, 1569, the miserable Farina obtained 
entrance among the household. It was the custom 
on these occasions for an anthem to be sung, and on 
the night in question about 8 o'clock the choir were 
singing one arranged by Orlando Lasso, beginning : 
Tevipus est, ut rcvertar ad cum, qui me misit} They 
had just uttered the words, Hon turbetur cor vestrum ; 
neque formidet^ when the assassin, who had taken his 
stand dressed as a layman close to the door, four or 
five yards from the saint, fired his piece loaded with 
balL The charge struck the Cardinal, who was on 
his knees before the altar. The sudden report of 
fire-arms produced a panic in the assembly, every one 
rose in confusion and the singing ceased; the saint 
quietly motioned all to keep their places, and finish 
their prayers. Thus Farina had ample opportunity 
to escape without being recognised or even observed. 
The Cardinal thought he had been shot through the 
body, and putting his hand immediately to the place, 

^ "It is time for me to return to him who sent me ^ (Tobias xii. 3o). 
' '*Let not jour heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid " (St. John xir. 27). 

Conspiracy of the Umiliati. 247 

reckoned he had received a mortal wound. Baising 
his eyes and hands to Heaven, he commended himself 
to God, giving thanks that he had been counted 
worthy to sufifer death for justice sake. But when 
the prayers were ended and he had risen from his 
knees, it was found that the ball which had struck 
him about the middle of the spine had not even 
pierced his clothes, but leaving a mark upon his 
rocliet, had fallen harmlessly at his feet Some of 
the shot had penetrated to the skin, but without 
making the least abrasion, or daring to spill the blood 
of the holy prelate. 

No wonder that the ball as well as the rochet 
and cassock worn by the saint were eagerly sought 
after and preserved by pious persons. They still 
remain to bear testimony to his merciful preserva- 
tion. The ball was long preserved by Giulio Petruccio, 
the almoner of the Cardinal, and is now in possession 
of the Oblates in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 
The rochet was sent to Eome, and after some time, 
came into the hands of the Cardinal Paolo Sfrondato 
of the title of St. Cecilia. He gave it to the French 
Cardinal de Soordis, Archbishop of Bordeaux, who 
deposited it in the Church of the Carthusians in that 
place. The cassock is in the care of Monsignor Lan- 
franco Begna, Provost of St Ambrose the Great at 

When the saint had withdrawn to his apartment, he 
found that though there was no wound, the ball had 
occasioned a slight swelling of the part. This always 

248 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

remained in token of bis miraculous escape, and was 
seen by many after bis soul bad passed to its reward. 
We could bave no clearer proof of tbe Divine Power 
wbicb intervened for bis preservation, for wbilst tbe 
bullet bad touched bim so gently, some of tbe re- 
maining sbot penetrated a table of solid wood stand- 
ing near, and made a bole in tbe opposite wall. 

As God permitted tbe devil to torment Job tbat be 
migbt be an example of patience to posterity, so 
may we say tbat He permitted tbis occurrence to 
serve as an instance of the sincerity and strength of 
mind of the saint. Xeither the sudden alarm nor the 
actual danger with which be was menaced, betrayed 
bim into any expression of annoyance. With calm- 
ness he continued his prayer, and restored composure 
to all present. Nor would he suffer any search to be 
made for tbe assassin, thus forgiving the injury on the 

A great commotion was excited throughout the 
city by the tidings of this event. The palace was 
besieged by inquirers, all of whom were loud in de- 
nouncing the malice that had been displayed, as well 
as in celebrating the deliverance as miraculous. Among 
tbe rest came tbe Duke of Albuquerque, the Governor, 
who met the Cardinal with every expression of esteem 
and sympathy, promising his assistance in searching for 
the assassin, and asking to see the place where the crime 
was attempted, as well as the ball, rochet, and cassock. 
He resolved to bring tbe offender to justice in a manner 
that should mark his sense of the crime, and serve as 
an effectual example to others. For tbis purpose be 

Conspiracy of the Umiliati. 249 

was going to examine some members of the household 
to obtain all possible information, but St Charles would 
not however allow it, though the Governor remained 
with him till ten o'clock at night, and induced others 
to unite their persuasions with his. But they could 
not prevail on the saint to alter his resolution. He 
had forgiven the offender from his heart, and would 
not take part in any proceedings against him. At the 
same time he thanked the Governor, but endeavoured 
to impress upon him that it was altogether a personal 
offence, and a matter to which he attaclied no imj^ort- 
ance whatever, further than that it served as a new 
motive of gratitude to God, who had so graciously 
interposed in his favour. He added that he should 
esteem it a real service if his Excellency would 
instead employ his zeal in defending the rights of the 
Church against the aggressions which grieved him 
from day to day, as in the case of La Scala, and that 
to pass over such attacks against his archiepiscopal 
authority was to encourage the plots of ungodly men. 
To this the Governor replied that in matters in- 
volving questions of law his hands were tied, as he 
could not act without the concurrence of the Privy 
Council and Senate, who thought that he ought not to in- 
terpose. It was otherwise he scdd in the present case, 
and he assured the Cardinal that his life and person were 
as dear to him as his own, and that he felt honoured 
in being able to constitute himself his champion. He 
did not belie these professions: that same night he issued 
a proclamation containing full particulars of the occur- 
rence, declaring that the Cardinal had by the grace of 

250 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

Grod been miraculously preserved unscathed, and called 
upon every one who had any knowledge of the culprit 
to come forward and declare the same immediately, or 
at furthest within the space of two days, under pain of 
death and confiscation of property. On the other hand 
rewards were promised to all who should be instru- 
mental in bringing the offender to justice These pro- 
clamations were published the following morning, and 
renewed on several occasions. The gates of the city 
were kept closed for three days, so that no one could 
pass out without being subjected to scrutiny. Several 
persons were arrested, who were thought likely to have 
knowledge of the author of the crime, or of his con- 
federates, no precaution being neglected that prudence 
could suggest. 

The Governor offered to provide the Cardinal with 
a bodyguard ; this the saint refused. Ten halberdiers, 
however, were sent to guard the palace ever}- night, 
during the time of the evening prayers. The Governor 
visited the Cardinal frequently, and on the second day 
remained to dine with him, dismissing his suite in 
order to testify more plainly the good understanding 
there was between them. 

The Senate in a body visited the Cardinal on the 
following day, each one testifying his anxiety like the 
Governor. He satisfied them in the same terms, and 
had similar expressions of good-will from the magis- 
trates, the colleges of advocates, and other gentlemen 
of the city. 

In acknowledgment of the signal mercy of God, 
St. Charles called together the clergy of the city, and 

Conspiracy of tfu Umiliati. 251 

in a solemn procession gave thanks for the miraculons 
preservation of his life. 

Shortly after this the saint withdrew to the Car- 
thusian monastery of Garignano, where be spent some 
time in retreat and meditation on the spiritual advan- 
tage that he ought to derive from his miraculous 
escape. Considering that God had thus wonderfully 
granted him a new term of life, he resolved to devote 
liimself more thoroughly to His service. Accordingly 
he determined to lead from that time forth a higher 
and better life, reckoning his past as of no considera- 
tion. He wrote the following letter to the Pope, to 
whom a detailed account of the matter had alreadv 
been given. 

Letter from St, Charles to Pope Pirn V. 

" Your Holiness will have been informed by Mon- 
signor Ormaneto of what has happened three days 
ago. It will be a cause of sorrow no doubt to your 
Holiness, although it bears testimony to the mercy of 
Grod in vouchsafing to preserve me in a manner so 
unusual He has done this, not out of regard for me, 
who am indeed most unworthy of so great a favour, 
but on account of the office to which He has called me, 
and to give me more time to do penance, of which my 
great need is known to Him, or for other reasons into 
which it is not fitting to inquire curiously. Your 
Holiness may, therefore, be glad rather than 80117. 
For my part, I shall never cease to give thanks to 
God for my escape, and hope it may be to His honour 
and glory." 

252 Life of St. CJiarUs Barromeo. 

As soon as Ihe Holy Father received this letter, 
he wrote in his own hand to the following effect : — 
That the persecution of the just was no new thing, 
as since the davs of Abel men had done the like, 
but the more they strove to do wrong, the more 
signally were they covered with confusion in the end. 
He had been particularly grieved by the blindness of 
those who, not choosing to walk in the fear of Grod, 
were in danger of falling into snares whence they 
would find there was no way of escape. He gave 
great thanks to God for preserving the life of such 
a mail as the Cardinal, and thus confounding the plots 
of the Evil One. 

Whilst he commended the unbounded reliance of 
the Cardinal in the goodness of God, he besought 
him for the future to take more care of a life so 
precious to the Church. He entertained no doubt 
that Almighty God would in His own time punish 
the authors of the crime. He counselled him to pray 
and ask the prayers of others that it would please 
our Divine Lord to enlighten the darkness of their 
minds. . 

We have given thus briefly the chief points in the 
reply of the Holy Father, which was expressed in 
terms of paternal affection. He afterwards held a 
consultation with the Sacred College of Cardinals, in 
which he took occasion to express his grief at the 
commission of such a crime, and pointed out the 
mischief which ensued when those who are at the 
head of the State show hatred of their Bishop, or 
suffer it to be perceiv^'^ ♦■^^at there is any want of 

Conspiracy oftJie Umiliati. 253 

agreement between them, since this serves to encourage 
the designs of evil men. He exhorted all to unite 
in giving thanks to God for His mercy in preserving 
the life of the servant of God in so signal a manner. 
He also desired his nuncio in Spain to narrate to the 
Eling all that had occurred, and to improve the 
occasion by urging the proof it afforded of the justice 
of the Cardinal's cause, so that his Majesty might 
direct his ministers in Milan to act accordingly. 

The news of the miracle soon spread throughout 
Home, and thence into distant countries. Everywhere 
the impression produced was the same. Letters of con- 
gratulation poured in upon the Cardinal from princes 
and nobles in all parts, expressing their horror at the 
crime, and their joy that it had been hindered. Some 
enlarged upon the malice of the assassin, and the 
degeneracy of the times ; others dwelt upon the good- 
ness of God thus signally manifested by the exercise 
of His power, even in these latter days, and on the 
patience and endurance of the servant of God. Among 
these was the Cardinal Marcantonio Amulio, who 
was wont to say that he scarcely knew which was the 
greater miracle, the preservation of the saint from 
harm, or his perfect self-possession at such a moment. 
Tbare were some who looked upon it as an example 
which ought to encourage the pastors of the Church 
to exercise the duties of their vocation with courage 
and constancy, since here was a manifestation of the 
constant watchfulness of the good Providence of God. 
A few there were who took a loftier view ; they would 

254 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

not rest content with merely rejoicing over it as a 
piece of good fortune ; they saw in it a testimony from 
God of the merit of this Defender of the liberties of 
the Church by awarding to him the palm of martpdom 
at the same time that He preserved the martyr in a 
marvellous manner in His service. 

We must not here omit to mention a saying to 
which this remarkable incident gave rise. It was 
said that the rochet of Cardinal Borromeo was harder 
than any coat of mail. 

While various persons were thus drawing edifying 
lessons from the occasion Satan was not idle, for there 
were not wanting those who unblushiugly called the 
whole affiiir an artifice of the Cardinal, in order to 
increase his reputation with the people. 

But gentlemen from far and near were prompt to 
offer their assistance in defending him, though the 
saint courteously excused himself from accepting their 

Gratitude and sympathy were ever}''where shown, in 
thanksgiving to God, and in supplication for a con- 
tinuance of His mercy to the Cardinal. Many of his 
friends, fearing lest his life should be menaced by other 
plots, urged him earnestly to take more care of himself, 
to which he always replied that he would have no 
arms of the flesh, but would trust only to the spiritual 
weapons of his pastoral oflBce, lest otherwise his church 
should suffer loss, which he could not bear. He often 
said that he had found great advantage from the 
prayers of pious persons on his behalf, and that the 

Conspiracy of the Umiliaii. 255 

night prayers which he continued to offer in his house 
as before, were much better attended than they had 
been before. This he held to be the best possible pre- 
caution he could take, at the same time that it was of 
OTcat benefit to the souls of others. 

Ori'jin of the Frati UmiliatL 

It is laid that the Emperor St. Henry II. in 10x4 banished into Ger- 
many some of the principal inhabitants of Milan, Pavia, Lodi, Cremona, 
and other places, as prisoners of war. They there formed themseWes into 
a society assuming the nume of Umiliati. or Humbled, in reference to 
their unfortunate condition. They applied themseWes especially to the 
manufacture of woollen cloth, and on their return to Italy in 10x9 they 
worked together as a corporate l>o<Iy. They are with certainty traced up 
to the year X134. when certain gentlemen of Milan, under the direction of 
St. Bernard, with the consent of their wives, made religious tows, 
adopting the rule of St Benedict, with certain particular constitutions, 
and building the monastery of Brera. Their order was approved by Inno- 
cent III. in xaoo, and increased so much that in the Milanese province alone 
they soon had two hundred and twenty houses. About 1550 they had 
fallen into such relaxation that in ninety-seren houses they had only a 
hundred and siztT*two brethren, with an annual revenue of 60,000 erowna. 
—Tirabotchif Vetera HumUiatorum monumenta, Milan, 1766. 

( 256 ) 



nouGH our Lord is accustomed to suffer His ser- 
ts to be afflicted in this life, so that they may be 
led like gold in the furnace, and may be kept 
ible lest the continual outpouring of His blessing 
lid fill them with any spirit of self-complacency, as 
Apostle says of himself: datics est mihi stimulus 
.is ; ne magnitvdo revelationum cxtollat me ; ^ yet 
he same time He is wont also from time to time 
et them taste of His consolations that they be not 
le down by the weight of His Cross, for thus it is 
brings them to perfection. It was no less so 
L the saint. If at one time God suffered him to 
ire great contradictions, the season of consolation 
not far off when He gladdened him again by the 
ess of his labours for souls, and the increase of 
es with which He adorned the soul of His servant 
now gave him consolation after the struggles he 
gone through in maintaining the authority of his 
3. Since his deliverance he found the veneration 

There was given me a sting of my flesh, lest the greatness of the 
•tions should exalt me " (2 Cor. xii. 7). 

Improved Condi Hon of his Diocese. 257 

for him increased, the rancour of enemies changed in 
many cases into good- will, while the Catholic King sent 
him assurance of his cordial support, thus contributing 
greatly to his peace of mind. 

The apostolic nuncio, as we have related, in his 
audience of the Xing had the happiest influence upon 
him, for when informed of the attempt on the Car- 
dinal's life he was much grieved, and wrote to the 
Duke of Albuquerque denouncing the edict against the 
archiepiscopal jurisdiction, and requiring its suspension 
as wrongful to the Church. Further than this, he 
ordered him to take immediate steps to bring the con- 
spirators in the afifair of La Scala to justice, and inti- 
mated that so far from desiring that this chapter should 
be exempted from the jurisdiction of the Archbishop, 
he, on the contrary, begged him to undertake its visi- 
tation and reformation. Although the saint had be- 
sought him to exercise hie royal authority rather 
against the impugners of ecclesiastical jurisdiction than 
against those who had conspired against his person, he 
would not himself by any means suffer so flagrant a 
crime to go unpunished. In conclusion, he charged 
the Governor to show greater alacrity in future in de- 
fending the Cardinal and furthering his wishes. 

From the spirit of this letter it may be gathered 
that the King gave other orders which were not made 
public. The upright dispositions of the prince were 
highly applauded in the letters of the apostolic nuncio, 
and of the most reverend Father Vincenzo Giustiniani,^ 
sent to Spain by the Pope concerning the affairs of 

1 General of the Dominleaii OtdeT, %u^ %l\«t^vt^\^^:%x^k^aai^ 
VOL, I ^ 

Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

UL Both these prelates dwell on the good-will 
m by his Majesty towards St Charles. 
»n receipt of the King's letter, the Governor lost no 
I in withdrawing the obnoxious edict, as he had 
received a pastoral admonition from the Sovereign 
d£f that he had incurred the censures against those 
violate the freedom of the ChurcL 
>ut when it was found that the abrogation of the 
t did not remove all the disabilities in the way of 
due exercise of the Archbishop's rights, which was 
urce of no small anxiety to the Sovereign Pontiff, 
Duke, who was most anxious to give satisfaction 
he Vicar of Christ, as well as to set his own 
pies at rest, applied to St. Charles, with whom he 
now on good terms, to assure his Holiness that he 
done all that in him lay to withdraw the edict ; 
hat it was not his fault that the desired effect had 
been attained. He accordingly received a brief 
1 the Pope with a faculty to his confessor to 
)lve him from all censures, so as to take part in the 
ing festival of Christmas, as became a Catholic 
;ce. The brief, however, contained the clause that 
y the end of the octave of the Epiphany he had 
reinstated the Church in the full and free exercise 
U the rights which it enjoyed before the edict was 
ed, he would again subject himself to the sentence 
a which he was now set free. The Governor 
ied to obey in all respects the wishes of the 
ereign Pontiff, and also to deliver himself from the 
sures of the ChurcL He therefore directed the 
sident of the Senate to allow all the functionaries 

Improved Condition of his Diocese. 259 

of the archiepiscopal Courts, in his own name and in 
faith of his princely word hereby pledged to them, to 
exercise their various duties and faculties, and to act 
with all freedom, as they were wont before the publi- 
cation of the edict. The same orders were sent to the 
civil governors of the other districts of the state, re- 
quiring them also to place the ecclesiastical courts on 
their old footing. 

All this was done before the end of the time fixed 
by his Holiness. The church Courts were again 
opened, and their business carried on as usuaL Some 
of the former evil counsellors of the Duke endeavoured 
indeed to turn him from his purpose, but he would not 
again listen to them, knowing that he was carrying 
out the just intentions of his royal master, and acting 
in a way worthy of his own dignity. Nor did his 
fidelity to the Church pass without acknowledgment. 
Besides the satisfaction of his conscience, his firmness 
in this matter won him the applause of the people, 
and the cordial approval of the saint. 

Meanwhile, the cause of the persons excommuni- 
cated for their treatment of the officer of the Arch- 
bishop's Court was heard at Bome. The course of the 
action was stayed by a petition presented by the 
defendants on the part of the Cardinal himself, pray- 
ing for their absolution, which was granted on condi- 
tion that they made satisfaction to the Church for 
their offence. Still, a report obtained that as they 
professed themselves penitent for what had taken 
place, no farther notice would be taken of the matten 
and that such was the royal pleasure. St Chas\&^ ^s^ 

26o Life of SL Charles Borrameo. 

hearing this report saw that such a course was quite 
unworthy of so right-minded a prince, and wrote to 
Spain to ascertain the fact As the answer hore out 
the expectation of the Cardinal that the King was of 
the opposite opinion, they had only to make a fitting 
submission to their pastor and humbly ask him for 
absolution. St. Charles, desiring nothing more than 
their restoration to the communion of the Church, in 
order to invest the act with solemnity and in pur- 
suance of the ordinance of the Apostolic See, erected a 
platform before the great door of the cathedral where, 
on the vigil of Christmas 1569. the King's Attorney- 
General and the notary who shared his sentence of 
excommunication, presented themselves on their knees, 
and prayed for penance and absolution. Then having 
rescinded the sentence of exile against the Bargello or 
officer of the Archbishop, and formally restored to him 
his arms, they took a solemn oath at the hands of the 
Cardinal never again to molest the Church or infringe 
her jurisdiction. This promise having been further 
secured by a public document, the Cardinal raised the 
censure of the Church which lay upon them, and took 
advantage of the occasion to explain the censure of the 
Church as a warning to the bad and encouragement of 
the good. The captain of justice, who had been 
made a senator of Milan, was also one of the excom- 
municated, and behindhand in asking for absolution, 
but had applied to the Cardinal for leave to attend 
the wedding of a relative at Alessandria della 
Paglia, and on receiving a refusal went in defi- 
ance of the sentence of excommunication. He was 

Improved Condition of his Diocese. 261 

taken ill on the following night, and died in a few 

This visitation of the hand of God was regarded by 
all as a punishment for the outrage offered to the 
Church, and a warning agaiust despising her censures. 
A similar end awaited another, who had been sum- 
moned to Borne to answer for himself. A most inve- 
terate enemy of St. Charles, he found himself struck 
down by sickness, with great distress of mind and con- 
viction that he was tormented by e\il spirits. Though 
exorcised, he could obtain no relief in mind or body, 
and wasted away miserably in a short time. Nor did 
these signal chastisements end here, for others, who 
had engaged in these sad transactions met with divers 
calamities, in a manner which extended even to their 

( 262 ) 





The provost of La Scala, Bernardino Bianchi, who had 
not taken part in the outrage, at this time besought 
the Cardinal to remove the excommunication from 
him. The saint, who in passing the sentence had 
chiefly desired to bring the offenders to a sense of 
the crime they had committed, gave him absolution in 
public before the door of the church of San Fedele. 
He, on his part, recognised the Archbishop for his 
rightful superior, and promised him fidelity and 
obedience. The others, with the Calabrian at their 
head, held out a while longer, in contempt of the 
excommunication, adding sin to sin, and, as a special 
defiance to the Cardinal, celebrating their religious 
oflSces with greater solemnity than usuaL But when 
they heard the miserable death of their ringleader, 
and that the Pope was going to inflict upon them 
the chastisement they merited, they began to yield 
and repent of their past transgressions. Pius V. in 
his zeal for the liberty of the Church had, on account 

The Canons of La Scala beg for Pardon. 263 

of their obstinacy, intended to subject them to the pen- 
alties of the constitution of Boniface YIII., the least 
severe of which is that such persons should be con- 
sidered ipso facto degraded and deprived of their bene- 
fices. But the saint had no desire that the personal 
offence to himself should be visited severely on the 
Canons. All that he wished was that the rights of 
the Church should be vindicated. He accordingly 
entreated the Holy Father very earnestly to act with 
clemency in tlie matter. Yielding to his solicitation, 
the Pope ultimately left the decision of the matter to 
his judgment Believing them repentant, and seeing 
that they were ready to amend their conduct and obey 
him in the future, he absolved them with solemn cere- 
monies on Sunday, 5th February, 1570, in public, 
before the great door of the cathedral, after he had 
received their public confession and had imposed on 
them a salutaiy penance. Entering the church, they 
were made to kneel before the high altar, and there 
declare that they owed subjection to the Archbishop 
of Milan, and took an oath of obedience at the hands 
of the Cardinal, beseeching him humbly to remove 
the interdict from their churcL After preaching a 
sermon on the occasion, the saint walked in proces- 
sion to the church of La Scala, amid general rejoic- 
ings. He reconsecrated the churchyard, the scene 
of the outrages, and then took possession of the 
churcL One of the penances which St Charles 
imposed on the Canons was, that for the ten following 
years all the clergy of the Church should repair in a 

Life of SL Charles Borromeo. 

f to the Cathedral on each anniversary of the 
ivity of our Lady, and there, humbly kneeling at 
feet of the Archbishop before the high altar, should 
:w their prayer for his forgiveness, and acknowledge 
jurisdiction over them. This was punctually ful- 
1, and was considered a slight penalty as compared 
'hat they had rendered themselves liable under the 
2d Canons, a punishment which but for the inter- 
ion of the saint with Pius V. would most certainly 
J been brought home to them. It was the desire 
he Pope, however, that there should be a rcserva- 

in the pardon thus accorded of the right of further 
ecution against those who had conspired togetlier 
ake arms and do violence to the person of the 
iinal. In pursuance of this they were impri- 
id, as a matter of form, for a short period ; but 
e deprivation of their benefices was under dis- 
ion, the good pastor interceded again for them with 
Holy Father so effectually that the decision in this 

was again left to him. No sooner was this done 
,, with the tenderness of a father, he restored them 
berty, and the only restriction he made in restoring 
: benefices was that they should give alms of a 
lin amount towards the building of the cupola of 
great church of St. Ambrose, 
[eantime Barbesta, in expectation of a punishment 
roportion to his offence, was kept in durance by 
mand of the Pope. When abandoned by all, the 
Iinal <iave him a declaration in writing that it was 
wish that some advocate should undertake his de- 

TJu Canons of La Scala beg for Pardon. 265 

fence. As none came forward, the saint requested 
Monsignor Ormaneto to crave the mercy of the Holy 
Father, who sentenced him merely to banishment, and 
even this penalty was afterwards remitted through the 
intercession 'of St, Charles. 


( 266 ) 




Independently of the royal ordinance to that effect, 
the Holy Father desired that every effort should be 
made to find the perpetrator of the attempt against the 
Cardinal's life. In the first instance he called upon St. 
Charles to publish the names of any on whom suspicion 
fell But the saint had already forgiven the injury, 
and had never suspected any one for a moment. He 
answered therefore in all sincerity, that while conscious 
of his duty and obedience in the matter, there was no 
one whom he could suspect of a murderous intention. 
His labours for the reformation of the souls committed 
to his care had turned many of those who were lax 
against him, but he could not fix upon anyone as likely 
to have intended to kill him. This, however, he would 
say, that many persons whom he deemed innocent had 
been accused. Soon after this he was informed that an 
apostolic delegate was coming to accelerate the investi- 
gation. This intelligence pained him, for he w" 

Execution of the Criminals. 267 

tremelj desirous that no one should suffer on his 
account Accordingly he immediately wrote to arrest 
further proceedings, protesting that nothing could be 
more opposed to his wishes than that it should be pro- 
secuted on his account But the Pope, considering the 
offence that had been committed against God and His 
Church, would not yield to his entreaties, but desired 
that justice should take its course. In pursuance of this 
determination he sent Monsignor Antonio Scammpa, 
Bishop of Lodi, with a mandate, to publish the penal- 
ties against those who, having knowledge of the delin- 
quent, should not come forward and give information 
of the same. Whilst engaged in carrying out these 
orders, one of the three conspirators and another privy 
throughout to the plot, presented themselves and 
declared the particulars of the affair, though not so 
completely as they had previously done to the Car- 
dinal In the course of their examination, however, 
the account they gave was so confused and contradic- 
tory that they excited grave suspicions about them- 
selves ; indeed it was hardly possible they could 
conceal the fact of their being seriously involved. 
They were accordingly imprisoned, to the sorrow of 
the Cardinal, who felt great compassion for them and 
wrote to Monsignor Ormaneto praying him earnestly 
to move the Holy Father to have mercy on them. 
But it was not easy to overcome the determination of 
the Supreme Pontiff to execute justice. Moreover, 
soon after the prisoners confessed the whole truth, both 
as to themselves and their accomplices. By this means 
the part which Farina had taken waa bto^^t \i^ Vw<^> 

• / 

268 Life of St. Charles Borromco. . 

and he was found disguised as a soldier in the service ' 

of the Duke of Savoy, who at once gave him up on the 
request of the Pope. Farina confessed his guilt in 
prison, and all four were sentenced to deatL On the 
2Sth July, 1570, they were handed over to the civil 
power, and were condemned to the gallows by the 
secular judge. The provosts of Vercelli and Cara- 
vaegio were beheaded, as beini^ of noble descent 

CO ' o 

Farina showed every sign of true compunction, and, 
during the ceremony of liis degradation, said that he 
had put on the sacred vestments unworthily, and it 
was most fitting be should now be stripped of them. 
In his last moments he besought the people who 
surrounded the gallows to pray for him, and forgive 
his crime of seeking to take away a life so precious to 
the world. Such confidence had the charity of St. 
Charles inspired, that one of those who were executed 
felt no hesitation in recommending to his care a niece 
who would be left destitute at his death. The saint 
promised to provide for her, and kept his word. The 
fourth prisoner was sentenced to the galleys, as there 
were some grounds for deeming him less guilty than 
the others. The saint did not fail to take advantage of 
this circumstance to apply for his pardon, intending to 
place him in a monastery. But his Holiness met the 
application with the words of the Prophet: Potestne 
cethiops mutare pellem suam ? ^ The saint nothing 
daunted renewed his petition, and at last obtained a 
remission of the sentence to confinement for a certain 
time in a monastery. 

^ ** Can the Ethiopian change his skin? " (Jeremias xiiL 2^ ^ 

Second Visit to Switzerland. 269 

Whilst the people were gazing on the sad spectacle 
of the execution of these criminals, St Charles was so 
much moved by his compassion for their fate, that he 
was desirous to leave the city for a time. Accordingly 
he took a journey into Switzerland to visit the three 
valleys of his diocese, which he traversed with his 
usual exertions and fatigue, defraying as before all 
expenses out of his own means, and bestowing abun- 
dant alms on the poor, and for the maintenance of 
churches. He then crossed the mountains to the 
German side, ostensibly to visit his sister, the Countess 
Hortensia, at her castle of Altaemps ; but his real object 
was rather zeal for souls, as he deemed it a good 
opportunity to treat with the secular power in those 
parts on matters most important- to the Catholic 
religion. After this he passed through all the 
Catholic cantons one by one, accomplishing many re- 
forms with great tact, but not without difficulty, for 
there were many bad examples found among the 
clergy of these remote parts, and more than one 
monastery where religious observance had fallen so 
far into decay the brethren thought it no scandal to 
be waited on by women-servants, even in their cells. 
In others hospitality was so freely exercised that the 
license of a tavern reigned within the walls. It was 
the care of St Charles to put an end to these disorders, 
and he knew so well how to win the co-operation of 
both clergy and laity that they gladly submitted in 
everything to his authority, as to a father. His 
labours were attended with a great blessing, more 
especially the measures he concerted with the autib^svdr 

270 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

ties of the cantons for the repression of heresies which 
at that time were making havoc among the flock. 

The principal places visited by him on this occa- 
sion were Altorf, Unterwalden,^ Lucerne, the chief 
town of the Catholic cantons and their principal 
seat of government, St. Gall, Zurich, and Altaemps, 
where he paid a short visit to his cousin. Count An- 
nibale Sittich. But he did not make any long stay 
here, but hastened on to the labours awaiting him in 
other places. On his homeward way he visited at 
Schwytz the image of the Madonna di Guado, where 
he was seen to shed many tears. All along the way 
the people came out to meet him, and accompanied 
him from place to place with great joy and every 
mark of honour. The very heretics joined in his 
praise, and often exclaimed that he was indeed a good 
man and one whom they could trust, because he set 
a good example. The Catholics who flocked around 
him, vied with each other in obtaining beads and 
rosaries and the like which he had blessed. So great 
was the devotion of the people towards him in some 
villages that they fell on their knees before him in 
tears, and cried that God had sent light into their 
distant dwellings. 

During this journey he had to pass through a part 
of the country which was occupied entirely by heretics. 
On entering one of the villages to take a meal, he 
was entertained by one of the great men of the neigh- 
bourhood in the name of the rest, who brought him 

1 Wliere he viiiied the relics of the bletied Nicholas Flue, celebrmted 
Mass and gave communion to a great number of people. 

Second Visit to Switzerland. 2 7 1 

also presents of wine and provisions, as was the custom 
with persons of note. Notwithstanding their heresy 
they held him in great veneration. The same was 
the case at St. Gall, where not he alone, but all his 
company were entertained by the heretics. As he 
passed through their town, all the people, men and 
women, gathered round him, though at other times 
they could not bear the sight of priests; so greatly 
did the odour of his sanctity soften and vanquish all 

Note on p. 370. — TJu Madonna di Guado. 

Our Lady of EiMiedeln, where, m the taint lays in a letter to Car- 
dinal Altaemps of September zo, 1870, be was much edified by the piety 
and derotion of the people. 

( 272 ) 


scrrRESsiox of the order of the umiliati. 


Z difTicultics in the way of reforming the Umiliati 
ming to battle even the efforts of their protector, at 
;th determined his Holiness Pius V. to suppress 


ifter the conspiracy against the life of St. Charles, 
found he could in justice no longer spare a com- 
nity which had so little regard for one who was 
LT protector and Cardinal. To do so, would, he 
, be a dishonour to God and a scandal to the 
pie. Fearing to err, however, in a matter of such 
jortance, he consulted the members of the Sacred 
lege, who strongly supported him in his purpose. 
iVhen the news was reported at Milan it made a 
It impression both on the people and the com- 
oity, the counsel and intercession of St Charles 
ig eagerly sought by all With his sanction it was 
3rmined that the congregation should send their 
erior-general, Father Luigi Bascape, to the Holy 
her, to promise in the name of the Order to adopt 

reform that he might see fit to make, that the 

Suppression of the Order of the Umiliatu 273 

city should send its petition in writing to the same 
effect, and that the Cardinal should support it by a 
•letter from himself, urging the reasons likely to move 
his Holiness, and assuring him that he entertained 
hopes that the fathers would accept his decrees of 

The superior-general accordingly repaired to Some, 
and throwing himself at the feet of the Pontiff, humbly 
begged mercy for his family, at the same time pre- 
senting the letter entrusted to him by the Cardinal. 
Neither the one nor the other changed in any measure 
the mind of the Pope, who was too indignant at the 
crime, and too incredulous of their amendment not to 
feel that the measure of their iniquity was full. 

His Holiness did not fail to commend the charity 
of the Cardinal, and his faithfulness to the evangelic 
counsels : diligite inimicoa vestros, et bene/acUe his, qui 
oderurU vos} But as the Vicar of Christ he saw that 
nothing less was required than the abolition of the 
Order, which accordingly by his Apostolic authority 
he solemnly suppressed. 

Perhaps there is no clearer evidence of the cry- 
ing abuses existing in this community than the fact 
that, although it possessed ninety-four convents, the 
whole number of religious did not amount to more 
than one hundred and seventy-four, many of the 
houses being without inmates while the superiors 
appropriated aU the revenue. The Pope afterwards 
published the Bull of their suppression, in which he 
set forth the evil lives of the religious, and the crime 

1 " LoTt your tatmiit, do food to thorn that hato ^o^** (^\. VLfeSew.^ . v^. 
YOU I. ^ 

2 74 Lif^ ^f ^'- Charles Borromeo. 

from which the Cardinal had heen preserved, by the 
special interposition of Divine Providence. To each 
of the brethren he assigned a befitting pension for his 
support during the remainder of his life, reserving to 
himself the right of presentation to the benefices after 
their death. When St. Charles heard of this disposi- 
tion of the temporalities of the Order, he sent Mon- 
signor Speciano to Rome, to beg that some share of 
these might be apportioned to his colleges, and other 
pious works. To this the Pope graciously assented, 
giving him for this purpose the church and house of 
Brera, where he founded the College of Jesuit Fathers, 
with their public schools. He also gave him San 
Giovanni at the East gate, whither he removed his 
great seminary ; La Canonica at the New gate, which 
he made a seminary for moral theology ; St. Mary's, 
where he erected his college for the young nobility ; San 
Spirito, which he gave to the Swiss College, but which 
is now used as a convent, as the Swiss College was 
subsequently removed to a more convenient site ; also 
the convent of the nuns of Santa Sophia, at the Soman 
gate near San Calimero; and others, the income of 
which he used for the maintenance of the cathedral. 
All those places which had been served by bad 
religious, were now really devoted by the saint to the 
salvation of souls. 

NoH on p. 373. — ** Ninety 'four convents,** &e« 

Theia numben differ slightly from those of Tirabosohi, p. 255. The 
dlsorepanoy may be explained by the fact that the latter writea of the 
Order in the year 1550. Probably two or three houses were snppresied 
in the interval, and the number of the brethren thereby increased. 

( 275 ) 




The deficient harvest of the year 1 5 6g had resulted 
in a period of great privation, which was much felt 
in the Milanese district The poor were threatened 
with starvation, as they were unable to pur- 
chase bread or other kind of food at any price 
within their means. They flocked into the city from 
the poor districts, to beg succour from the citizens. 
Our saint could not bear the sight of their misery, 
but in his fatherly love took their needs upon him- 
self, and directed his almoner to open his hands wide 
and help all who were in need, especially poor religious, 
who had much to suffer. 

Besides this he made large provision of bread, rice, 
and vegetables in his own house, and distributed daily 
to aU who applied, caldrons full of soup in the portico, 
so that access was easy to alL 

By these means he relieved as many as three thou- 
sand persons daily for several months, during the whole 
time the dearth lasted. All this entailed a ver; ^ce&t 

276 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

ouUaj, and obliged him to beg of the nobles and rich 
men of the city, to whom he addressed moving exhor- 
tations to be liberal towards the poor in their great 
necessity. His example bore fruit, and many vied 
with him in the abundance of their alms-deeds. Par- 
ticularly was this the case with the Governor, the Duke 
of Albuquerque, who gave a penny every day to all who 
begged an alms at his gate. Many others sent large 
amounts to the saint to be distributed by him. In 
this way he often received considerable sums without 
even knowing from whom they came. So great was 
his care of the poor, that it has been established that 
during this season of scarcity not one person died of 
want Nor were his labours confined to Milan. His 
precautions and earnest applications to those who had 
means went far towards alleviating the prevailing dis- 
tress throughout the diocese. With this intention in 
view, he did not spare himself the fatigue of travelling 
from place to place to stir up the charity of alL 

This same year was remarkable for a prodigious fall 
of snow in this part of Lombardy. So heavy was it that 
the roofs of many houses were broken in. Moreover 
when the masses of snow froze in the streets, they 
became so completely blocked that it became neces- 
sary to hew out ways to make a passage from one 
street to another. Even so they were still quite 
impracticable for horses and carriages, and foot pas- 
sengers were obliged to have sharp points of iron fas- 
tened to the soles of their shoes to avoid falling on the 
slippery surface. In the country the snow had fallen 
in some parts to a depth of nine feet, the heaviest fall 

Dearth in Milan. 277 

ever known in those parts. But this was nothmg to 
what they looked for in spring time, when the melting 
of the ice would bring a flood to wash away the grow- 
ing crops, and the foundations of the houses. 

St. Charles foresaw the calamity, and gave himself 
up to prayer and fasting, in order to move Almighty 
God to spare His people, and called upon all to join 
him in the work. His supplications were answered 
in a wonderful way, for instead of the deluge which 
was expected, the snow melted away by insensible 
degrees without inconvenience. Everybody looked 
upon this as miraculous, as the great body of water 
was disposed of in a way so much out of the common. 
The veneration of the people for the saint was thereby 
much increased, as also when it was found that the 
prospect of the harvest was more abundant than any 
previous year within the memory of living man. 

Intelligence was received about this time that the 
Grand Turk, the relentless enemy of Christians, was 
preparing a great armament, and that he had already 
declared war against Venice by landing a force of 
cavalry and infantry in the island of Cyprus. All 
the zeal of Pius V. was stirred up at the news of this 
threatened invasion. He immediately adopted methods 
to defeat it Besides providing subsidies for carry- 
ing on the war, he set on foot a League among the great 
powers of Europe against the barbarians ; but placed his 
chief reliance on the grace of God, by calling on the 
whole city of Kome to join in earnest prayer, in public 
and in private, and forbidding masques, theatrical per- 
formances, and the banquets that usually take i^l&<^ 

278 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

between Christmas aiid Lent. In an apostolic letter 
of the year 1571, granting many indulgences, he 
invited all Christendom to unite in supplicating 
Almighty God not to judge them according to their 
iniquities, but look down with mercy upon the cala- 
mities and perils that threatened His people ; and 
defend them from the hosts pouring in upon them; 
disposing the hearts of all Christian princes to sink all 
animosities, and present a united front to the enemy of 

The victory of Lepanto on 7th October, 1571, was 
the answer to these prayers, and to the intercession of 
Pope Pius v., of blessed memory. 

St. Charles did not lose this occasion of benefiting 
his flock. At the first sound of alarm, he addressed 
a pastoral letter to the city and diocese on the gravity 
of the danger, and the necessity of deprecating the 
wrath of God by prayer and penance. At the same 
time he dwelt upon the follies to which thoughtless 
and pleasure-seeking men were apt to give themselves 
up during the time of the Carnival. He pointed out 
how they are a fruitful source of sin and evil, crying 
to Heaven for judgment, and most surely calling 
down the scourges of Divine justice. He concluded 
with a moving exhortation to the people to live as 
Christians in the practice of good works, to shed 
around them the lustre of a blameless and holy life, 
and by a true and worthy spirit of penance to gain the 
help of God in the hour of need. 

Solemn processions of clergy and people showed 
the spirit of devotion that animated the hearts of 

Further Reforms. 2 79 

all. Prayers were said and the Blessed Sacrameut 
exposed in the Churches, particularly those served 
by Eegulars, for many days in succession, with 
every facility for the people at all hours. These 
exercises of devotion took place during the three 
weeks immediately before Lent, — a time when, through 
a bad habit, men were wont to think themselves 
entitled to greater license than at other seasons, — and 
thus proved an antidote to many disorders. Xor was 
his zeal yet satisfied. Knowing that the people 
readily accepted spiritual food when provided for 
them, he ordered that on all the principal festivals, 
the offices of the Church should be sung with greater 
solemnity than was customary. Besides all this, he 
set on foot so many other exercises of piety that there 
was no time left vacant for frivolous worldly amuse* 
ments. By these means the face of the city was 
quite changed, and the streets no longer resounded 
as of old with the shouts of idle masqueraders and 
trumpets calling the people to profane diversions, but 
instead there were heard hymns of praise and prayer. 
Processions threaded their way through the city, ask- 
ing the blessing of Heaven, accompanied by pilgrims 
who scourged themselves publicly in token of their 
spirit of penance. 

A long-standing abuse was at this time put down 
by the saint On the first Sunday of Lent the people 
were accustomed to eat meat, and to indulge in all 
manner of revels, as if it had been the closing day 
of the Carnival ; an occasion of many sins. To prevent 
these disorders, St. Charles invited all the people to 

28o Life of St. Charles Borrameo. 

come to Holy Communion at the cathedral on that 
day, and, that they might do so with greater devo- 
tion and more abundant fruit, he recommended them, 
besides the ordinary necessary preparation, to join in 
special fasts and prayers. Tlie people obeyed his wishes 
cheerfully, and the week before the first Sunday of 
Lent was spent in devotion and every sign of penance. 
When the Sunday arrived the concourse of people 
was so great, that though the Archbishop began to 
give Communion at break of day he had not concluded 
by the hour of Vespers. 

By all these pious exercises his flock was restrained 
from much sin, and kindled to devotion and fervour : 
this happy change, no doubt, moved our Divine Lord 
to look down mercifully on His people, and grant the 
victory with which He was pleased to bless the 
Christian arms. 

( 28l ) 






The rulers of the Swiss cantons had always held St. 
Charles in great honour on account of the fame of his 
holy life which had spread throughout Christendom. 
Their veneration for him was greatly increased since 
he had been among them and they had themselves 
been witnesses of his saintliness and his success in 
reclaiming souls. They found by experience that the 
truth of the matter far exceeded the report that had 
gone abroad, and their admiration for him grew in 
proportion as they became better acquainted with his 
life and actions. His heart in turn was filled with 
an ardent desire to strengthen their faith, and help 
them in the way of salvation. This good feeling was 
of the greatest benefit to the people at large, and 
especially on the following occasion. Two school- 
masters had established themselves in the diocese of 
Como, who, imder pretence of giving a liberal educa* 
tion to youths under their charge, sowed among them 

282 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

the seeds of the heresy of Calvin. Others also of 
the same sect had, under various pretexts, introduced 
themselves with similar intentions into different parts 
of the diocese. The watchful eye of the pastor soon 
perceived the threatened danger. He had not failed 
to take warning from similar attempts in other places, 
and he knew well that harm would come to his flock 
if measures of precaution were not speedily taken. It 
was with great anxiety that he saw the practice pre- 
valent among the Swiss of sending their children to 
be educated in the heretical cantons, in order to learn 
the German language, to the great detriment of the 
country ; for by their means the erroneous principles 
they had imbibed were spread far and wide on their 
return. Still the evil was as yet in its infancy, and 
might readily be crushed by a vigorous hand. The 
year before, when he was on his journey beyond the 
Alps, he had made some remonstrance against this 
pernicious practice. The answer he then received 
was that it was a question to be referred to the 
National Assembly or Diet, which was attended by 
the principal men of all the cantons, both Catholics 
and Protestants ; because these new teachers had taken 
care to settle in towns which were \mder the jurisdic- 
tion of all the cantons. 

When the Cardinal heard that the Diet was about 
to be held, he sent Ambrogio Fornero,^ a native of 
Switzerland and the Swiss representative at Milan, 
to attend it. He was furnished with all necessary 
credentials in order to visit the authorities of the 

* At the time a mexr^'*'* '^^ ♦he Cardinal's household. 


Promotion of Uu Faith in Switzerland. 283 

Catholic cantons before the opening of the Diet, and 
dispose them to farther the settlement of the question at 
issue. The saint recommended him at the same time 
to be liberal in presents, and to give state banquets 
according to the custom of the country, to show the 
respect and affection which he entertained for the 
authorities. Fornero presented himself at the first 
meeting of the Diet, and stated the requests of 
the Cardinal under three heads. First, that the 
obnoxious teachers should be withdrawn and that 
no heretical teachers should be permitted in the 
Catholic cantons. Second, that none of the inhabi- 
tants of the cantons should be permitted to send their 
children into the heretical cantons, either to learn 
German or to be instructed in any trade. Third, 
that no Protestant official or functionary entrusted 
with any public office should be suffered to interfere 
in any matter concerning the Catholic religion, but 
that there should be a Catholic officer appointed, 
whose business it should be to inquire into cases of 
apostasy and to bring offenders to justice ; since the 
heretics would not allow the establishment of the 
Holy Inquisition in the hands of priests or religious. 
The Catholic cantons readily accepted these proposi- 
tions, and they were considered in the Diet in spite 
of the difficulty of punishing the teachers of false 
doctrines. But still the respect in which the veiy 
name of the saint was held prevailed over these 
obstacles, and a decree was passed that these teachers 
should be banished from the Catholic cantons under 
heavy penalties; also that none of the subjects o£ 

284 Life of St Charles Borrotneo. 

the territorj, south of the Alps, of whatever station in 
life, should henceforth send their children to heretical 
countries for education. There was appointed, in 
conformity with the desire of the Cardinal, a new 
officer, the Chancellor of Locarno, one of the principal 
towns of the territory, with jurisdiction over all 
matters pertaining to religion, and instructions to 
prohibit all heretics from interfering with the faith 
in future. These instructions were carried out, and 
Fomero himself conducted the heretical teachers be- 
yond the mountains, and so freed this part of Italy 
from heresy. 

All were struck with astonishment at the expedi- 
tion with which his measures were undertaken, and 
the way in which he won the consent of those among 
the authorities who were already tainted with hereti- 
cal tenets. This was indeed one more striking proof 
of the universal esteem felt for him. But for his 
vigilance and energy, the country might have been 
devoured by heresy, as had but lately been the case 
in the neighbouring valleys of Chiavenna and Val- 

While these matters were proceeding, St. Charles 
was again busied in the work of his diocese, and his 
reforms. His health began, however, to suffer from 
the fatigues and austerities with which he afflicted 
his body. A malady occasioning much suffering about 
this time was endured by him with patience, and 
accepted with joy as coming from the hand of his 
Heavenly Father. 

Scarcely, however, had the treatment of the phy- 

Promotion of the Faith in Switzerland. 285 

sicians begun to relieve him, than in his zeal he 
renewed his labours, so that, little by little, he fell 
back into his former weak state. This was a source of 
great anxiety to his friends, who took the opportunity 
to urge him to be more careful of his health, if not for 
his own sake, for that of his diocese, to which his life 
was so important. They pointed out to him that if 
he was taken away, the work of reform would be 
stayed and his labour rendered in vain. 

The saint received these admonitions with a recogni- 
tion of the affection that prompted them, but replied 
that, while his friends were so mindful of his bodily 
health, he must beg of them not to forget the con- 
sideration of the health of his soul ; he reminded them 
that spiritual and ecclesiastical matters were not to 
be measured by the life of one individual, but by the 
providence of God. He was, moreover, convinced that 
whatever depended on the life of any poor mortal 
must come to a speedy overthrow, for the Lord himself 
had said by the prophet Isaias that to trust in man was 
to rest upon a broken reed.^ These sentiments shew 
the absence in our saint of all solicitude for his bodily 
health. He had abandoned life itself to the keeping 
of Grod and the service of His Church. Moreover he 
blamed himself if he in any way faltered, but at the 
same time gave the glory to God for all the good he 
had effected, esteeming himself only as a frail and 
unworthy instrument in His hands. 

Having partly recovered from the dangerous conse- 
quences of this illness which overtook him in the 

zxstL 6. 

286 Life of St. Charles Borrameo. 

month of June, he set out on his usual visitation of 
his diocese in August. When at some distance from 
Milan he heard that the Governor, the Duke of Albu- 
querque, was fast sinking under a serious illness, and 
that his life was despaired of. Much grieved at the 
intelligence, for the saint bore a lively recollection of 
his good-will towards himself, he hastened back to 
Milan, but only arrived in time to console the Duchess 
for the loss of her husband. The sympathy and 
counsels of the saint proved no small alleviation of 
her sorrow. 

In this same year, 1571, the Franciscan brethren 
had restored their church dedicated to Saints Xabor 
and FelLx, whose relics were preserved there. On the 
occasion of reopening it, on 4th September, 1571, St 
Charles verified and placed them beneath the high 
altar, together with relics of St. Barnabas, and of two 
Archbishops of Milan, Saints Caius and Matemus, the 
bodies of St. Fortunatus and St. Felix, martyrs, and of 
St Savina, matron, replacing them with fitting honour 
in thpir resting-places. 

( 28; ) 




The illness of St Charles did not yield to the treat- 
ment of his physicians, and he at last met with a 
dangerous relapse, accompanied by low fever and 
catarrh. It was feared that consumption would set in, 
and carry him to the grave. From medicine he ob- 
tained no relief, and the malady continued unabated 
till the following summer. During this illness his 
evenness of temper and union with the will of Grod 
were no less remarkable than his spirit of thanksgiving 
to Him for having been pleased to visit him in this 
way. He regretted nothing but his inability to labour 
as heretofore in his diocese, though he did not even 
now neglect to watch over his flock. It is wonder- 
ful to trace out the ways in which God continually 
tried the endurance of His servant, who stood firm 
against every onslaught, strengthened in the love of 
Grod to meet still fiercer attacks. Though suffering 
from illness, he occupied himself in preparing the 
matter for his third diocesan synod, which he had. 

288 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

fixed for the 1 5 th April But this proved to be more 
than he was able to do, as his strength of body was 
unequal to the strain. 

The Cardinal was still in a suffering condition 
when news reached him of the serious illness of his 
Holiness Pius V. Soon the worst apprehensions were 
fulfilled, and whilst the saint was calling upon his 
flock to unite with him in prayer for the restoration of 
this great Father and Pastor, he heard of his death 
on 1st May, 1572. The Church lost in him a saintly 
Pontiff, whose single aim it had been, by spreading the 
Faith and reforming the flock, to promote the glory of 

St. Charles's physician had at this time begun a new 
course of treatment, and had prescribed that he should 
be kept perfectly quiet He would, however, allow 
nothing to hinder him from celebrating the obsequies 
of the Pontiff, and stirring up the people to pray 
to God for a worthy successor. Abandoning the care 
of his health to His good providence, he set out on 
his journey to Rome to assist at the forthcoming elec- 
tion. His doctor remonstrated with him in vain. 
Humanly speaking, it would seem that a long and 
difl&cult journey suddenly undertaken and rapidly pur- 
sued, after so many months* illness, would give a shock 
to the system, and entirely check any treatment on 
which the physicians trusted for his recovery. 

But the saint was not to be restrained by these con- 
siderations. He knew that he had influence with the 
Cardinals, and he would not forego this opportunity of 
exercising it for the glory of God in a matter of such 

yourney to Rome. 289 

importance. At the same time, he submitted patiently 
to the treatment prescribed, and stored the medicines 
in his baggage. Every provision was made for his 
diocese during the time of his absence, and, after public 
prayer, he set out on the day after the tidings came of the 
PontifiTs death. He used a litter,^ with frequent re- 
lays of mules, and thus was enabled to continue his 
journey without interruption, and with such expedition 
by day and night that he reached Rome at the same 
time as two Cardinals who had travelled post from 
an equal distance. Thus he was early enough to enter 
the Conclave at the same time as the rest of the Sacred 
College. Two noteworthy occurrences happened during 
the journey. One was that the mule which bore the 
drugs with which the doctor had provided him fell 
into a river at a short distance from Bologna : the 
various bottles and cases were overturned and carried 
down the stream, and were never recovered. When 
the saint Iieard of it, he observed with a smile, that it 
boded well for his health, as it was a sign he had no 
further need for these appliances. Contrary to the 
opinion of the faculty he grew notably better each day 
of his journey, an improvement which he referred to the 
good pleasure of God to make use of him in the election 
of His Vicar upon earth. The other circumstance was 
that he was perfectly able to say Mass every day, not- 
withstanding the speed of his journey and its fatigues. 
Yet before leaving Milan he had been obliged for 

1 In 1564 Pi as IT. begged the Cardinali not to make nse of oarriAgM, 
but Afterwards thej were in such general use in Rome that St. Charles 
need to saj : " Omnia ranitas praeter enrram in urbe — AU ij ranitj ex- 
cept a carriage in Rome." 

VOL. I. '^ 

I Life of St. Charles Borroinco. 

ly days to omit saying Mass on account of his 
idy. It was on the 12th May, 1572, that the 
linals assembled in Conclave to elect a successor 
?ius V. On the following day they unanimously 
ted Ugo Buoncompagni of Bologna, Cardinal of the 

of San Sisto, who took the name of Gregory XIII. ; 
second Pontiff whose election may be said to be 
3g to St. Charles. He had been made Cardinal by 
\ IV., and enjoyed the intimate friendship of St. 
rles, when the affairs of the Church were in his 
Js during that pontificate, and had assisted him in 
ging the Council of Trent to a conclusion. The 
t was thus well acquainted with his merits, so 
, together with all those who were guided by 
opinion, he cheerfully concurred in the nomination, 

felt much satisfaction at seeing the Chair of St. 
ir filled by one who was so well able to carry 

the constitutions of the Council of Trent in 

extirpation of heresy, and promotion of the faith. 

charity and zeal of this Pontiff were abundantly 
'ed by the numerous colleges he founded, by 
3h the Church of God has been much benefited, 
jory XIII. was not slow to prove his high 
reciation of the Cardinal, for he would not give 

permission to leave Rome till the end of October, 
rder to avail himself of his advice and assistance 
L in the administration of the city and of the 
^ersal Church. The saint also left his mark 
1 the pontifical household, considering it most 
Drtant that the Head of the Church should rule 
rell, in order to give good example and show 

youmey to Rome. 291 

mankind bow to live according to the precepts of the 

Besides the counsels which he thus offered to the 
Holy Father in all humility, he left with him a priest 
of his own household, Bernardo Camiglia by name, as 
a spiritual man, who was also well acquainted with 
matters of ecclesiastical discipline, and qualified to 
assist in measures of reform. 

The Cardinal presented the Pontiff with several 
works of the Fathers and saints, addressed to those 
who have held the Apostolic office : such as the book 
of St. Gregory on the Pastoral Office, and that by St. 
Bernard, entitled " De Consideratione," sent to Pope 
Eugenius; as an expression of his fervent desire to 
kindle in the Pontiff a fire of zeal for the benefit of 
the Church of God. With the Cardinals and prelates 
also, he exercised his influence by urging upon them 
the exalted duties of their office, and their special 
obligations to live holy lives, and to set an example of 
virtue to all. 

Whilst thus occupied with these matters the Car- 
dinal did not forget his duty to himself and to his own 
diocese. His health not being perfectly restored, he 
still continued some of the remedies prescribed for 
him. But when the doctors disagreed, those of Some 
strenuously urging him to try the baths of Lucca, and 
the faculty at I^Iilan as strenuously opposing this 
course, St Charles solved the question by giving up 
doctors and medicine altogether, according to the advice 
of prudent friends. He now followed only the rule 
of life he had formerly drawn up, and this plan sue- 

292 Life of St. C liar Us Borromeo. 

ceeded, for he had no sooner returned to the use of 
ordinary food than he grew gradually better, and before 
]on<; he was once more as well as he had ever been. 
He felt now as if he had emancipated himself from a 
state of bondage, and begun to return to his practices 
of austerity. Indeed he increased his mortifications, 
and by this means made rapid strides in the path of 
virtue and perfection, becoming a shining example, 
leading many to live spiritual lives. 

He liad several times applied to Pius V. to accept 
his resignation of the office of Grand Penitentiary, that 
of Protector of many religious Orders, and of Arch-priest 
of Sta. Maria iIa!]rc;iore. His Holiness would never 
relieve him of these burdens, though he dispensed him 
from the necessity of residing habitually in Pome, or 
from performing any part of the duties that might 
interfere with the administration of his diocese. The 
saint now renewed his application to the new Pontiff, 
deeming that the time devoted to these offices was so 
much stolen from more immediate duties. Gregory 
XIII., however, was just as unwilling as his prede- 
cessor to release him from oblicrations which he fulfilled 
so welL Upon the continued application of the saint 
he did, however, so far consent on the condition that 
St Charles should select his successors in the offices. 
This caused a further delay, as the saint was desirous 
of weighing his decision well. In the meantime he 
turned his attention once more to Milanese affairs, 
and, in the first place, gave directions that the 
diocesan synod should be held in his absence accord- 
ing to the arrangements he had mada He now 

Journey to Rome. 293 

entrusted the matter to his Vicar-General, Monsignor 
Castello, and ^vTote to his clergy to explain his deten- 
tion at Eome by important affairs, in obedience to the 
commands of the Sovereign Pontiff. When about to 
return he asked for spiritual treasures for his beloved 
Church, and obtained from the Sovereign Pontiff many 
privileges and abundant faculties for its government. 
Among other concessions he obtained divers indul- 
gences for the practice of daily devotions, which he 
had recommended throughout the diocese ; for the 
schools of Christian doctrine, the societies of peni- 
tents, and for the indulgence of the seven churches in 
Home, for the same number of churches in Milan. 
Furnished with these treasures he started homewards, 
stopping on his way to visit the Holy House of 
Loretto, whither he arrived on the vigQ of All Saints, 
and gave great edification to the pilgrims by passing 
the whole night in prayer in the Chapel of Our Lady, 
in imitation of the holy fathers. 

Uook KL 




N his return to Milan, St. Charles, after he had 
r weighed the arguments of the Sovereign Pontiff 
ecting his resignation of the offices before men- 
ed, determined to give them up, as intimated in 
following letter, which he despatched after his 
/al at home, in order to free his mind from 
pies about the nomination of fit successors. For 
office of Grand Penitentiary, as it was one of great 
ortance, he had suggested to the Holy Father the 
.6 of Cardinal John Aldobrandini,^ whom he judged 
3y his learning, prudence, and integrity to fill it 

^ Brother of Pope Clement YIIL, 1592-1605. 

Resigns the Office of Grand Penitentiary. 295 

Letter of St. Cluirles to Gregory XIII. 

" Most holy Father, — After my return to the church 
committed to my care, I have deemed it right no longer 
to delay coming to a decision concerning the office of 
Grand Penitentiary, and to resign it as my conscience 
has constantly and urgently demanded of me. For it 
is manifest that it is a great disadvantage to the pas- 
toral care of the see of Milan that I should be absent 
from my proper sphere of labour in order to fulfil the 
requirements of that ofTice. I have, therefore, resolved 
to give it up altogetlier. Since it has pleased our 
Divine Lord to commit to the hands of your Holiness 
the government of His whole Church, and in particular 
the power of conferring all the offices and dignities for 
His greater glory and the salvation of His flock, and 
has further promised the special and unfailing assist- 
ance of the Holy Ghost in all these matters, it would 
seem that I cannot more effectually set my conscience 
at rest than by leaving the matter entirely to your 
Holiness. I, therefore, hereby, of my own free will 
resign the office of Grand Penitentiary into the bands 
of your Holiness as into the hands of Christ, whose 
Vicar you are on earth, praying His Divine Majesty to 
grant you abundant light and grace, that you may be 
guided to a fitting choice of one who, not being bound 
to residence or other duties as I am, may be free to 
employ his zeal in the service of God for the welfare 
of souls. For the same reason I further resign, of my 
own free will, the office of Arch-priest of St. Mary 
Major, as well as the Protectorate and Censorship of 

Life of St. diaries Borroifieo. 

Franciscan and Cannelite Orders, of the convent 
i. ^lartha in Rome, and of all the other congrega- 
of Regulars of which I have charge, 
[n conclusion I humbly kiss the feet of your 
abss, and commend myself and this Church of 
n to your paternal care and tenderness in the 
lis of Christ.^ 

Milan, 19/A XovemUr 1572.'* 

le Pope was graciously pleased, on receiving this 
r, to relieve him of the various oftices, which he 
jrred on other Cardinals, assigning to Cardinal 
. Aldobrandini the post of Grand Penitentiary as 
Iharles had advised. 

p to this time he had continued to hold his first 
siastical appointment, viz., the benefice of Arena; 
however, on account of any particular attachment 

for he had long been detached from all affection 
ihings of this world, but because he was not yet 

to make up his mind exactly what use to make 

At first, it had been his intention to make a 

giate church of it, in which daily residence should 

. Charles writes to Bernardo Caniiglia, bis agent at Rome, on 
iber 19, 1572 : ** Before my return from Rome I made known to the 
aj desire of being relieved from the burden of so many responsibUi- 
9e urged me to name some Prelates for these ofBces. As I was silent 
nissed me, teUing me to delay my purpose till I should be at Milan, 
uld thick about the matter calmly. I am still of the same mind, 
f be seen from the accompanying letter to his Holiness. Should 
in ask me to name my successor in the office of Penitentiary, leave 
hing to his judgment, only telling him that I thought it my duty, 
[ filled the office, to put up no post for sale, and beg him to press 
work of its reform which I have begun." 

Resigns the Office of Grand Penitentiary. 297 

be obligatory, or to give it to some reformed congrega- 
tion of Eegulars, who should undertake the spiritual 
care of the neighbourhood, which stood in need of 
religious ministrations. But the first plan did not 
altogether satisfy him, and the second failed to obtain 
the approval of the Holy Father. Both schemes 
remained consequently in abeyance for a time. Mean- 
while he spent the whole of the revenues in alms 
and in maintaining upon the spot a number of 
efficient priests, as the monks had given up the 

It then occurred to him to devote the revenues 
to an important work which he had been meditating 
for some time, in order to supply a pressing need both 
of the diocese and of the whole province. He had 
seen from the first that his clergj' were deficient in 
their knowledge of theolog)', and had already taken 
some steps towards a remedy by inviting the Jesuit 
Fathers to establish themselves provisionally and give 
public lectures at the hoiise of St Fidelis until a 
college should be erected. Whilst in Bome he 
brought the matter under the notice of his Holiness, 
and obtained from him permission to resign the 
benefice of Arena in favour of this college. He then 
entered into a negotiation with Cardinal John Paul 
Chiesa, who at that time held in commendam the 
provostship of Brera which had belonged to the Frati 
Umiliati, and obtained from him the houses of 
residence, which were large and commodious, with 
spacious grounds. He also obtained a portion of the 
revenues to provide for the maintenance of the Fathers 

298 Life of St. diaries Borromeo. 

who were to serve the ChurcL This he gave to the 
Jesuit Fathers on the 4th October of the same year 
(1572), acting under apostolic authority. Such was 
the beginning of his celebrated college for teaching 
grammar, the classics, and theology, according to the 
provisions of their institute. This foundation was a 
proof of the love he bore his native city, enabling 
the good Fathers to serve God, and to confer great 
benefits on students, among whom were found many 
men of ability who, but for this provision, might have 
passed their lives in obscurity. He made over to the 
Fathers the abbey of Arona, where they established 
their novitiate, as it was especuiUy adapted for this 
purpose, on account of the beauty and salubrity of 
its site. Nor did ihe saint in his zeal overlook the 
needs of the surrounding population, for he made it 
also the residence of several priests who were to 
attend to tlieir spiritual wants, so that he had every 
reason to be satisfied with this distribution of the 
property, as it amply provided the means of grace to 
numbers, and conferred a lasting benefit on the 

Others, however, took a very different view of the 
matter, his relations among them ; who complained of 
the alienation of the patronage of a benefice which 
had long been in the family, and thought, if he did 
not want to hold it himself, he might at least have 
resigned in favour of some one of them. But the 
saint, whose sole aim was the honour and glory of 
God, saw no reason to change his determination, as he 

Third Provincial Council. 299 

could not but rejoice over the advantages likely to 
accrue from its foundation. 

It has proved indeed one of the greatest of the bene- 
fits he conferred, for not only has it been the means 
of instructing his clergy in theology, but it has also 
pronded the diocese with men of erudition, according 
to the intention of the Council of Trent. It has sent 
out also a succession of men well fitted for the duties 
of the pastoral office, and this not alone for the 
diocese of ]Milau, but likewise for distant provinces, 
as numbers of clergy as well as laity were attracted 
thither to finish their studies, just as in Itome students 


flocked to the colleges founded by Gregory XIII. 

Having satisfactorily arranged this undertaking, he 
found himself free to devote the rest of the winter 
to the care of his diocese. He was employed at this 
time chiefly in carrying out the reforms he had begun, 
more especially in various communities of nuns, ac- 
cording to the powers which he had obtained for this 
purpose from the Holy Sea He was also much occu- 
pied with the preparations for his third provincial coun- 
cil, which was held on the 24th April, 1573. Among 
the prelates assembled we find Cardinal Paul da Eezzo,^ 
Bishop of Piacenza, of the Congregation of Clerks 

1 Paul Bundi cU Rexzo or d*Areuo was bom at Itri, near GaSta, in 
15 1 z. He entered the congregation of the Theatinei in 1557, and was 
made Biahop of Piacenia in 1568, and Cardinal of the title of St. 
Padenziana in zsja Like hia predecetior in the see, Bernardino Seotto, 
caUed the Cardinal of Trani, he came to the Prorinoial Conndl here 
mentioned, after entering a protest againat being held to be lubjeot to 
Milan as metropolitan. In 1576 he waa translated to Naples bj Gregory 
XIIL, where he died in 1578 at the age of sixty-seren. The eanse of 
his canonisation was introduced in 2624, and he was declared Bktaed by 
Clement XIY. in Z77Z. 

300 Life of SL Charles Borrameo. 

Eegular. He was a man of holy life, learned, and a 
firm friend of our Cardinal A number of decrees were 
made on this occasion, touching di\ine worship and 
ecclesiastical discipline, and the better obser\'ance of 
festivals throughout the province. St. Charles then 
forwarded the decrees, as he always did, to the 
Sovereign Pontiff for confirmation, by the hands of 
Monsignor Castello, his Vicar-General, whom he also 
commissioned to lay before his Holiness certain 
reforms proposed, not only for his own diocese, but 
also for the whole Church, a special point lieing that 
synods should be regularly held in each province, a 
matter which had hitherto been nejilected. 

( 301 ) 




AViliLE St. Charles was busied in his ordinary pastoral 
occupations, a fresh storm was raised up against him 
on the old question of jurisdiction, which had not as 
yet been decided, in consequence of the death of 
Pius V. 

As we have already mentioned, the Governor of 
Milan, the Duke of Albuquerque, had passed to a better 
life some time before these events, and the military 
commandant now held the office provisionally. On 
occasion of the Carnival this year he gave orders for 
the representation of a hunt of wild animals for the 
diversion of the crowd, to be held in the piazza in 
front of the cathedral. As soon as the Cardinal heard 
this, his zeal for the honour of the House of God led 
him at once to prohibit its being held in that place 
under pain of excommunication. The commandant 
obeyed without hesitation, and transferred the scene 
of the games to the castle square. He was, however, 
considerably nettled at this interference with bis 

)2 Life 0/ Si. Charles Borromeo. 

thoritj, and soon began to show signs of resenting 
being urged thereto by certain individuals who hod 

good intentions towards the Church, and who 
ggested that very little respect had been shown 
m by the action of the Cardinal 
Before very long another occasion presented itself 
creating animosity against him. 
Some persons, who had profaned the Festivals of 
e Church, having been punished by the ecclesiastical 
urts, brought the matter before the Deputy Governor, 
dnu him to restrain the ecclesiastical functionaries 
mi taking cognisance of such cases. Being thus 
itated in various ways, he tried by different means 

induce people to give entertainments and public 
lis and dances on feasts and holidays, knowing that 

could not displease the Cardinal more than by such 
bs of profanation. However, he failed in his design 
rough the piety and good feeling of the people. Nor 
LS he permitted to attempt any other innovation, for, 
thin a very short time after these occurrences, he 
1 ill and died. 

We have already had occasion to mention that 
us V. had sent Father Vincenzo Giustiniano, a 
)minican, into Spain to treat with his Catholic 
ijesty respecting the matter of ecclesiastical juris- 
jtion in Milan, and that his labours had resulted in 
3 King's sending instructions to the Governor to spare 

pains in settling the dispute by a fair adjudication, 
;er which matters went on smoothly for some time, 
I piety and good-will of the president of the senate, 
ovanni Battista Eainoldo, tending in no small degree 

Troubles as to Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. 303 

to promote this understanding, and for the moment the 
Ecclesiastical Courts exercised, without let or hindrance, 
authority even in lay causes which fell under their 
jurisdiction. But on the death of the Governor the 
aspect of affairs changed. His temporary successor, 
Alvaro de Sande, seems not to have been acquainted 
with the mind of his Catholic Majesty with respect to 
religion, and lent himself to the malicious designs of 
the disaffected. We have already given some account 
of their intrigues, but worse remains to be told. 

The new Governor, Don Luigi di Eequesens, had 
been the king's ambassador at liouie during the 
pontificate of Pius V., and during his residence 
there had formed a close friendship with St. Charles, 
and was well acquainted with his upright character, 
and his loyalty to the Spanish monarch. Nothing, 
therefore, seemed to hold out a fairer prospect of 
continued peace and cordiality between the eccle- 
siastical and civil authorities ; the event, however, 
proved widely diflerent from these expectations. The 
ill-disposed persons who had ^before menaced the 
tranquillity of the Archbishop, being men of bad lives, 
were once more led on by the enemy of souls to array 
themselves against him. 

The new Governor was known to them to be a man 
of considerable sagacity and ability, and to be fully 
alive to the importance of ingratiating himself into 
popular favour, while not less anxious to preserve his 
fidelity to his royal master free from all taint of 
suspicion. Consequently, on his accession to office, 
the persons whom we have described surrounded him. 


|. Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

represented to him that he could do no greater 
ice to the King than by defending his prerogatives 
!nst the alleged aggressions of Cardinal Borromeo, 
)se object, according to them, was gradually to 
rp the royal authority; and they hinted that his 
lecessor had held the reins too loosely, and that he 
Id not make himself more popular with the people 
1 by throwing off the yoke of the Church, 
"fothing could be more specious or better calcu- 
d to serve their purpose. For what magistrate 
► aimed at establishing a character for zeal and 
otion to his ])rince wouLl not have hailed such an 
ortunity of giving proof of his assiduity ? Thus 

saint was involved in great difficulties. The 
'ernor, nil this time, imaczined that he was doiniij 
I service to his royal master, and, in reality, was 
ng with an upright intention, for it does not seem 
lave occurred to him that he was being deceived 
3vil counsellors. It was not long before two very 
•urable occasions presented themselves for the exer- 

of his supposed loyalty ; and for this, additional 
ity was given by the absence of St. Charles, who 

at the time occupied in the visitation of his 
ese. A gentleman having obtained a Brief from 
Apostolic See for the furtherance of a lawsuit in 
Ji he was engaged, the Governor fancying he dis- 
ed a slight here offered to the royal prerogative, for- 
! it to be heard by the Judge, alleging that to have 
iirse to such briefs without obtaining the permission 
le Crown was illecjal. 
he Sovereign Pontiff was much displeased at 

Troubles as to Ecclesiastical J urisdict ion. 305 

this occurrence, and intimated to the Governor that 
he had incurred the censures of the Church, from 
^vhich he urged him, in terms of paternal affection, 
to clear himself. These remonstrances produced the 
desired effect, and the Governor begged for absolution, 
which was given him by Cardinal Chiesa, who was at 
the time in Milan. St. Charles himself absolved the 
judge at the door of his archiepiscopal chapel. 

The other occasion was of graver import, and pro- 
duced more perplexing results, and opened up again 
the old controversy with the Senate of Milan, and 
caused greater scandal. It happened that two years 
before certain letters had been received from the King 
of Spain containing much that was contrary to the 
rights of the Church. The evil counsellors surround- 
ing the Governor now persuaded him to produce them. 
But before taking any active steps he gave the Car- 
dinal, as if in joke, some intimation of what he had 
in reserve. St. Charles, without hesitation, warned 
him with his habitual gentleness, but at the sam^ time 
seriously, to desist from such proceedings, as he would 
never suffer an infringement on the rights of the 

Notwithstanding this reply, no sooner was St. 
Charles absent from Milan than the Governor in- 
formed his Vicar-General of the letters he had in his 
possession. The holy Cardinal heard with deep regret 
of the hindrances thus thrown once more in his way. 
He grieved, too, no less over the outrage offered to 
the honour of God, and the thoughtlessness of one 
whom he esteemed, and of others associated with him^ 
VOL. I. ^ 

Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

sposing themselves to ecclesiastical censures. With- 

loss of time he retraced his steps to Milan, and 
I great forbearance endeavoured to make the Gover- 

sensible of the real state of the case, that he 
lit see the injustice of the course he was following, 

abandon it For this purpose he asked for the 
stance of Cardinal Chiesa, who had considerable 
lence with the royal authorities, both on account 
lis position as a Senator of Milan, and of his per- 
il character which commanded general respect. He 
ight that the representations of such a man, added 
his own, would give sullicient evidence of the 
atened mischief. But the malicious iniluence 
ch was persistently applied on the other side 
iteracted their united endeavours, and the Gover- 

would not recede from the oEfensive position he 

taken up. The Cardinal might now justly have 
lounced sentence of excommunication against him, 

he was willing to show every consideration for 

office, and, moreover, his natural tenderness had 
le him shrink from having recourse to measures 
je verity. Again he sought the intervention of 
5e whose position enabled them to do so with effect, 

by their means he brought forward arguments to 
v-e not only that he was invading the liberty of 

Church, but was acting in direct opposition to the 
id and intention of the King, as his own letter suffi- 
itly proved. These remonstrances were backed by 
le reference to the duty, which must, in the event 
)rotracted hostility, devolve upon him, of asserting 

honour of God, and publicly declaring that the 

Troubles as to Ecclesiastical yurisdzction. 307 

censures of the Church had beeu incurred. But these 
and other friendly overtures failing to soften him, the 
saint found himself at last obliged to allow justice to 
take its course. The reluctance with which he yielded 
to this painful expedient is sufiSciently shown by the 
fact that he sent the Governor a special notice of his 
determination, although in no wise bound to do so, 
seeing that the scandal had been so notorious. His 
anxiety for the honour of God and the defence of His 
Church in this matter are well depicted in his own 
words : " Should we be obliged to publish this excom- 
munication, which may God forbid is our continual 
prayer to Him, the Father of mercies, then your excel- 
lency, and all by whose fault or act it will be brought 
about, must be well aware that in the day of wrath 
you will have to render an account thereof to Christ, 
our Lord and Judge, and to His Church." 

Other testimony to the grief here expressed is found 
in the deposition of Giovanni Fontana, Bishop of 
Ferrara, in the process of the canonization of the 
Saint. He says that, when St Charles summoned 
the Congregation to deliberate upon tlie case, it was 
noticed by all that he had been shedding tears. 

However, when all his charitable overtures had been 
refused, St. Charles found the time was come when 
he must nerve himself to an act of severity, which 
could no longer be deferred. That no precaution 
might be omitted, he had first sent to inform the 
Sovereign Pontiff of his determination, after having 
himself investigated the law of the Church on the 

Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

^hen this resolution became known to his family 
friends, he was immediately assailed by them on 
ides with entreaties that he would reconsider the 
They represented to him the danger to which 
ras exposing himself and them by provoking the 
1 displeasure in the event of the King espousing, 
night well be expected, the cause of his repre- 
ative. Their forebodings of ruin to their house 
d not fail, they thought, to move his compassion, 
squired all his courage to tell them that while his 
itiou for them remained undiminished, aud though 
/ould grieve him very sensibly that they should 
5 to suffer on his account, yet that, at the same 
{, he was bound to prefer his duty to the love of 
:ives, and could not suffer any human affection to 
rfere with what he owed to God and His Church, 
whose defence he would, if need were, lay down 
ife. He continued, that should he entertain any 
r views he could never hope to be a good Bishop, 
ven a good Christian. At the same time, he be- 
[ht then to bear with him, although he could not 
i to their entreaties, for it became his sacred csdl- 
to strip himself of every earthly attachment for the 
3ur of God. He bade them put their trust in the 
Ine protection, which could never fail either himself 
lem, as the cause in which he was engaged was most 
, and one which concerned the interests of Almighty 
. He begged them to recommend the matter to 
in their prayers, trusting implicitly in His Divine 
stance, and assured them that his own should not 

Troubles as to Ecclesiastical yurisdiction. 309 

His resolution became in a very short time known 
all over Milan. As it was a matter of public import- 
ance, every one felt an interest in it, and all awaited 
the issue with fear and apprehension. 

Tlie municipal authorities of the city, after long and 
earnest deliberation, decided to send Count Tazio ^lan- 
dello, with other members of the council, to implore 
the Cardinal, in the name of the city, to stay the pro- 
ceedings. They urged their plea with great earnest- 
ness, pointing out the consequences that might be 
expected, and the possibility of a rising of the 
people. They urged also that the good works which 
his zeal and devotion had set on foot might suddenly 
be ruined. They begged him to remember that he 
was himself by birth a son of their city, and now, 
by his office and dignity, had become its Father. In 
these terms they besought him not to visit the sin of 
others upon them, his loving children and fellow- 
citizens. St. Charles received their representations 
with his wonted urbanity, but told them decidedly 
that, while they were not wrong in appealing to his 
sense of what was due to his native city, or to the 
respect and afifection he owed them, he could not alter 
his determination. He added that nothing could have 
induced him to such a step but the sense of justice 
and the demands of conscience. He prayed them 
to let this consideration be his justification in 
their eyes, since nothing could release him from 
the obligation of having a greater regard to God than 
to the world, as he was bound to place the Divine 

3IO Life of St. CJiarles Borromeo. 

honour and glory above anv other consideration what- 

The delegates could saj nothing in replj to this 
unanswerable argument, and returned to the council.^ 

^ Koiwithflianding all tbii oitpotitioo of the Governor, in a letter to 
tht king of S|iain he told him ** thut he had found at Milan a second 
Ambrose."— O. 

( 311 ) 





There is no doubt that the meek »ind humble spirit of 
St. Charles would have been greatly relieved could 
he have found any just pretext for withdrawing from 
this excommunication of the Governor. But it was 
no longer possible to delay the measure, severe as it 
might seem, as there was no other way of maintaining 
the authority of the Church, which was his only 

He was so firmly persuaded that these reasons left 
him no alternative, that, setting aside every other con- 
sideration, even regard for his personal safety, in the 
true spirit of a Bishop he publicly pronounced the 
sentence of excommunication against the Governor, the 
Grand Chancellor, and some who were their associates, 
in conformity with the resolution he had previously 
submitted to the Holy Father. 

Printed notices of the act were posted up in the 
public places throughout the city, and a copy was sent 
to Home by a special messenger, with further explana- 

312 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

tions of the reasons for his resolution, to be laid before 
the Holy Father. 

The Governor was enraged beyond measure by the 
excommunication launched against him. He considered 
that a grievous injury had been done him, and his 
creatures were ready enougli to kindle his indigna- 
tion, and to persuade him that the sentence was un- 
just, and, consequently, the sentence was null and 
void. They persuaded him to publish a manifesto 
ill every town of the province, justifying his own 
conduct, and throwing the blame on the Cardinal. 
This was once more the occasion for disseminatinc: all 
manner of slanderous reports, and he was maliciously 
accused of harbouring a secret design of exciting the 
people to revolt, and subverting the royal authority. 
But two measures which they induced the Governor 
to adopt were more grievous to St. Charles than all 
the personal calumnies which were heaped upon him. 

There existed in Milan at that time, as at the pre- 
sent day, several societies of penitents and other con- 
fraternities, who used frequently to meet in their public 
oratories for devotional exercises. These the Governor 
now forbade, publicly, under heavy penalties, to hold 
their meetings, except in the presence of a person 
deputed by him to attend in the name of his Catholic 
Majesty, that they might not be made the occasion of 
treacherous designs. He further ordered that when 
they went in procession clothed in sackcloth, as was 
their custom, they should no longer conceal their faces, 
but to prevent suspicion they should allow themselves 
to be seen and recognised by all. 

Excommunication of the Governor. 313 

The persons composing these confraternities were 
for the most part artisans and mechanics, who being 
employed in their various trades on working days, met 
in their chapels on festivals with the single object of 
joining in acts of devotion for the good of their souls. 
They were, of all people, the last who ought to have 
been suspected of harbouring seditious sentiments, 
being among the best conducted and most loyal of the 
King s subjects. 

But even though they might have submitted to the 
interference, it was generally impossible to obtain the 
attendance of the required officer. Thus their religious 
gatherings were effectually interrupted to the no small 
grief of the Cardinal.^ 

The other vexatious measure of the Governor was 
to deprive St. Charles of the castle of Arona, in 
which, as it was a border fortress of the Milanese 
province on the Swiss side, a garrison was usually 
kept He accordingly sent Count Giovanni Angosciola, 
governor of Como, with a body of soldiers to take 
possession of it in the name of his Catholic Majesty, 
pretending that as from its position it was a key to 
that side of the province, it ought not to be left in 
the hands of those whose allegiance was doubtful. 
There happened to have been left in charge of the 
castle one Giulio Beolco, a man of military experience, 
and faithful to his liege lord, St Charles. He at once 
refused them admission, but despatched a messenger to 

^ Si. Charles writct to OrmAOtto, "that now no initroetion in ChrU- 
tUn doetrint waa giTtn in tht aftarnoon, and that the eonfratamitiaa did 
not meat in the ehnrehaa for the divina ofBea in tha morning." 

314 Life of SL Charles Borromeo. 

St Charles, to know what were his orders. Without 
hesitation the saint desired him to deliver the fortress 
into the hands of the Governor of Iklilan, and to 
remove all doubts, sent him his countersign, a half- 
crown piece of Lucca. He also begged his uncle 
Count Fi-anccsco Borromeo to explain to the Governor 
that if he had given him the slightest intimation of 
his desire to garrison the fortress he should have 
complied most gladly ; so that there would have been 
no need of dispatching soldiers, as if he had been an 
enemy who was resisting his just demands instead of 
Cine of the familv of Dorronieo which had never failed 
in fidelity to their lawful prince. He added that not 
only the castle of Arena, but all he possessed was 
at the King's disposal, and nothing could give him 
greater pleasure than to be able in anything to serve 
his Majesty ; for he was most devotedly attached to 
his person, and was ready to comply with his wishes 
in everything, while duty did not interfere. But, he 
continued, he could not overlook the injury done to 
the Church, and was prepared to sacrifice his life in 
its defence. 

This occurrence distressed the Cardinal very much ; 
not that he cared for the castle of Aroua,^ but he 
feared that it might make an unfavourable impres- 
sion on the King and induce him to alter his friendly 
policy towards the Church. It was precisely this 
that his enemies attempted to compass; but the 

^ Hii words to CaiteUo then at Rome on this lubject were : ** If this 
it to be the end of the diicuuion that I am merely to lote the cattle of 
Arona, then I refute not the condition, provided that the peace of the 
dioceie it gained at the price.''— O. 

Subsequent Events. 3 1 5 

King s good sense did not suffer him to listen to these 
malicious interpretations, and his appreciation of the 
Cardinars right intentions in all his reforms was not 
to be so easily destroyed. 

Nicolu Ormaneto, lately made Bishop of Padua, 
was at this time the Papal Nuncio in Spain, and his 
intimate acquaintance with St. Charles* plans of re- 
form enabled him to confirm and increase the King's 
esteem of him. He reminded the King of his services 
to the State during the war against the Turks, and 
the disturbances in Flanders ; of his solicitude for the 
welfare of Jlilan especially, into which he had infused 
such a religious spirit, that among all his Majesty's 
subjects, there were none of whose loyalty and obedi- 
ence he was more sure. The King was so pleased with 
this account of the Cardinal that he desired to have 
it in writing, and that his regulations should be 
followed throughout the whole of his dominions ; 
particularly the practice of the Forty Hours' Prayer, 
which he desired to be observed in the same manner 
as at Milan. 

The friends and relations of St. Charles, together 
with the greater part of the citizens, were filled with 
consternation at the arbitrary and unwarrantable pro- 
ceedings of the Governor. Eumours were afloat of yet 
more mischievous designs on his part It was said 
that the Cardinal was to be taken prisoner to the 
castle; and again, that bodies of cavalry had already 
surroimded the archiepiscopal palace ; and outside the 
city, it was publicly announced that a rising of the 
people had actually taken place. These reports, by 

3i6 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

the time they had reached Borne, increased so much 
that it was said that the Archbishop's house had been 
burnt to the ground. 

Amid all these rumours, St. Charles presented the 
unrutHed attitude which a good conscience and tnist 
in God inspire. His friends were urgent with him 
to avoid danger by shutting himself up in the palace, 
but he refused, telling them he had nothing to fear 
as he had undertaken nothing without good reason; 
that his only motive throughout had been to promote 
the glory of God, and defend the liberties of his 
Church. Therefore, he was persuaded that, if need 
were, God would interpose to preserve him. Besides, 
he was prepared not only to suffer, but to shed his 
blood in the cause. The habit which the Cardinal 
wore was by its colour a constant reminder to him 
that he might be called upon to suffer death for 
Christ's sake. 

In this spirit he continued as usual to exercise all 
his pastoral functions, and to attend to the business 
of his diocese, without regard to the armed force with 
which, during four days, the Governor surrounded his 
palace, with the avowed intention of making him 
prisoner. Though he could not but perceive that 
his whole household were so terrified that it was with 
difficulty he could find any one to bear the cross before 
him, nevertheless he continued to go in and out as 
if nothing had happened, and this even more frequently 
than was his wont. This he did not merely for the 
sake of showing himself, but with the object of 
visiting the churches and relics of the saints, and 

Subsequent Events. 3 1 7 

recommending himself to their intercession after the 
example of his predecessor St. Ambrose, who acted 
in a similar way amid the trials and persecutions to 
which he was subjected. Among others he visited 
the church dedicated to this saint, where his relics 
are preserved, together with those of S3. Gervosius 
and Protasius, whom he had specially chosen as his 
patrons and advocates in Heaven. 

As on the direct way to these shrines it was necessary 
to pass the ducal palace where the Governor resided, 
the saint did not choose another route, but as usual 
passed under the Governors windows, in opposition 
to the wishes of his friends, for the express purpose 
of showing that he had nothing to fear from him. All 
his trust was in God, and the event proved that He 
watched over his safety, for not only was he preserved 
from all harm, but even the soldiers who surrounded 
his palace would, when they saw him coming, dis- 
mount and throw themselves on their knees to beg 
his benediction — so great was the veneration inspired 
by his sanctity. 

While externally so calm, the saint felt inwardly 
the greatest anxiety as to the evil likely to result 
to the souls he so dearly loved. He prayed earnestly 
and without ceasing, accompanying his prayer with 
frequent fasts and penitential exercises, that God would 
avert all harm from his flock. 

Immediately upon the publication of the excom- 
munication, the Governor had written to Some, with 
the intention of proving its injustice and having it 
annulled. In order to ensure success, and obtain a 

3 1 8 Life of St. C liar Us Borromeo. 


favourable decision respecting the question of jurisdic- 
tion, he sent his despatch by the hands of a senator, 
whom he empowered to act on his behalf. This man 
had, however, scarcely arrived within sight of Borne, 
when he received a kick from a horse which laid him 
up for some time. On his recovery he went on his 
mission to the Holy Father, but at the very outset 
of his address he was seized with a fainting-fit, and 
was carried back to his hotel in a state of insensibility, 
and died soon afterwards, witliout having accomplished 
his business. His untimely end did not have the 
effect of deterring others from taking up the cause 
of the Governor, and constituting themselves his 
advocates with the Pope. The form of their petition 
gave additional evidence of the assurance which 
dictated the proceedings, for they pmyed for his 
absolution in case he had incurred the censures of the 
Church, and alleged among other reasons, that he was 
on the eve of setting out on a journey into Flanders, 
by order of his Catholic Majesty, for the express 
purpose of upholding the Faith there, and putting 
down heretics by force of arms, and that he would 
probably have started before they could return. 

Upon this false statement the Holy Father granted 
him permission to receive absolution from the sentence 
at the hands of any priest, thinking he was already 
too far from Milan to apply to the Cardinal The 
Governor not having left Milan, as soon as he re- 
ceived the permission, obtained absolution clandes- 
tinely from a regular priest, who had not a proper 
understanding of the case, and did this without sending 

Subsequent Events. 3 1 9 

the Cardinal any notice or satisfying his requirements 
as in duty bound. The Sovereign Pontiff was greatly 
displeased when he heard how his favour had been 
abused, and required peremptorily that satisfaction 
should be made to the Cardinal, an order which the 
Governor was at last compelled to obey. 

After this he set out for Flanders, but misfortune 
seemed to attend him everywhere, and before two 
years were over he was seized with an illness which 
brought him to an untimely end. Before he dieti, 
however, he sent to the Cardinal to beg for his bless- 
ing as a holy man, although he had opposed him and 
lent himself to the designs of evil advisers. 

The news of his death was communicated to the 
saint by a brother of the deceased, who was then 
ambassador in Rome. This brother begged him to 
make a memento for him in the Holy Sacrifice. St. 
Charles replied that he had not forgotten him, and 
that he would recommend him assiduously to the 
mercy of God, with many other expressions of charity 
for his soul. 

The Chancellor, who also had fallen under the 
excommunication, having from the first shown himself 
quite regardless of the censure, was seized with a deep 
melancholy, so that he could get no rest night or day, 
and was soon reduced to a very alarming condition. 
When the physicians could afiford him no relief he 
became aware of the real cause of the malady, and 
adopted the only remedy of which the case admitted, 
viz., to humble himself before his saintly pastor, and 
to beg pardon for the offence he had committed against 

o Life of St. C/iarUs Borromeo. 

n. No sooner had he done so than he began to get 
;ter, and was, after a while, completely restored. 
Lving, however, received the absolution when thought 
be dying, as a case of necessity, he applied, on his 
toration to health, for the regular pontifical absolu- 
n. This St. Charles, with the utmost kindness, 
knted, both for himself and for another who had 
lurred the same penalty. 

Some time afterwards, having fallen ill and knowing 
; end to be near, he sent to beg the Cardinal to come 
d visit him, and give him the absolution once more, 
make sure. St. Charles cheerfully assented, con- 
ing Iiim with paternal admonitions, and preparing 
n for a good death, and remained with him in his 
)ny till he breathed his last.^ 

St. Charles, writing of hit last moments to Cesare Speciano on April 
I579t ■'^y* '" " To-daj the Chancellor, who has hut little hope of 
>ver]r, receiTed the Holy Eucharist from mj hands. Bj mj advice he 
Q made his will, and confided to me his last wishes on the adminis- 
ion of his private affairs."— O. 

( 321 ) 




The zeal of the saint for the salvation of souls con- 
stantly urged him to seek out new ways of putting 
every class of persons in the way of salvation. His 
attention was directed to the dangers to which the 
sons of the nobility were exposed, through the tendency 
of such persons to pamper and indulge their children, 
instead of bringing them up in proper discipline. 
Another consideration was the paramount importance 
of providing a remedy for these evils, on the ground 
that the good order of a state depends much on the 
good or bad example set by those who are in high 
places. Having had this always before his mind, he 
thought the most efficient remedy would be to found 
a college for the young nobility, where they might be 
brought up in the fear of God, out of the way of the 
corrupt influence and seductions of the world. He 
commenced this undertaking on the 4th June, 1573, 
by hiring a house for the purpose as a temporary 
vpL. L ^ 

32 2 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

arrangement In the following year he remoyed the 
establishment to the house and church of St John 
the Evangelist, formerly belonging to the Humiliati 
brethren, in Porta Kuova, a beautiful situation; the 
house being ver}' commodious, with grounds attached, 
and not far from the College of Brera, whither the 
students went for lectures. 

He called it St Mary's College, putting it under the 
protection of Our Lady, and entrusted the direction 
of it, in the beginning, to the Jesuit Fathers, though 
he afterwards transferred it to the Oblatcs of St. 
Ambrose, as he diil in the case of other colle'jes and 
seminaries he founded. He also formed a commit- 
tee of noblemen, laymen as well as ecclesiastics, to 
attend to the temporal part of its administration. In 
this, as in his other foundations, he displayed his 
munificence by expending a large sum in constructing 
new buildings, and in fitting up and furnishing the 
college. He gave them a rule appropriate to their 
circumstances, to train them in habits of Christian 
virtue, providing for their due attendance at exercises 
of devotion and the frequentation of the Sacraments. 
As he opened it to all nationalities, he had, in a short 
time, the happiness of seeing a great concourse of 
students from all parts of Italy, and even from 
countries north of the Alps, collected under its foster- 
ing care. The sons of princes were attracted by the 
great reputation of the college, not only for the 
excellence of the instruction imparted, but also for 
the virtuous training of the students, and the liberal 
treatment they received. 

Founds a College for the Nobility. 323 

St Charles always took the greatest interest in the 
welfare of this institution, and though he had taken 
every care to provide it with professors and directors 
of zeal and ability, he nevertheless kept up a special 
personal communication with it as a work which was 
very dear to him. He used to visit it several times 
in the course of the year, and (Examined the youths as 
to the progress they had made in spirituality and in 
their studies, addressing to each some words of paternal 
encouragement and advice. On these occasions he 
always gave them Holy Communion with his own 
hands, and regarding them as the tender plants of his 
Lord's garden, sought to awake in them a great desire 
of growing in the love and service of God. As a 
further mode of encouraging them, he used to take 
prelates and other noble persons who came to see him 
in Milan to visit the place, as a good opportunity for 
producing their compositions in prose and verse, and 
urging them to a virtuous emulation in their studies. 

At the close of the academical year he invited a 
number of nobles, senators, and literary men, and held 
a public examination, distributing prizes with his own 
hands. These days gave him great pleasure, as he 
witnessed then the happy effects of the union of piety 
with the cultivation of the intellect. This work he 
esteemed of so great importance that he desired Silvio 
Antoniano,^ who had been his secretary, to write a 
treatise on the best method of education. When the 
manuscript was submitted to him, he was not quite 
satisfied with the part referring to Christian piety, and 

1 AfUnrardt madt Cardinal by Clcmtnt VIIL 

324 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

therefore begged Agostino Valeric, Cardinal of Verona, 
to make some additions on this head. He, however, 
saw that it would be useful, and needed no additions 
from himself, and accordingly published it, with a 
dedication to Cardinal Borromeo. 

St. Charles had long desired to restore a certain 
pious observance which had fallen into neglect. This 
was the observance of Advent, when the offices of the 
Church are more full than at any otlier time, and set 
before us the most beautiful mvsteries of the Faith, 
the whole season having at one time been kept as a 
daily fast, with other holy exercises. St. Chaik-s 
had bc'iin some vears before to observe the fast, and 
had made it a rule with his household to observe an 
abstinence from meat and milk diet during the season, 
and fasting on two or three days in each week. In 
1573, on the approach of Advent, he determined to 
stir up the people to sanctify it with fasting and 
works of piety, conformably with the intention of 
Holy Church. He accordingly published a pastoral 
letter, in which he gave an exposition of the rites and 
mysteries commemorated by the Church during that 
season. He exliorted the people to the practice of 
mortification as a fitting preparation for the Feast of 
the Nativity, recommending them to observe the whole 
season as a fast, or, at least, some days in the week, 
and to practise works of charity and piety. He 
concluded with severe strictures on the recklessness 
of those who conformed to the corrupt custom of 
spending these solemn days in unseasonable and pro- 
fane conviviality. 

Pastoral Labours. 325 

This letter is preserved entire in the seventh part 
of the Acts of the Church of Milan, and is well worthy 
of study, being fvdl of instruction and fervour. It 
produced the most encouraging effect on the Milanese. 
They were prompt in responding to the call of their 
Pastor. Manv fasted the whole time, whilst others 
observed the abstinence more or less strictly. Num- 
bers fasted once or twice a week, and frequented 
the sacraments, attending the sermons and other 
exercises by way of preparation for the Christmas 

This success kindled fresh fervour in the saint, and 
when the carnival ushered in the Lent of 1574, he 
issued another pastoral in which he pointed out most 
clearly the great dishonour to God and the injury 
occasioned to souls when men gave themselves up to 
senseless amusements and revels unbecoming their 
Christian profession. 

He demonstrated from Holy Scripture the import- 
ance of the Lenten season and its practices of piety; 
and he deplored the unhappy condition of those who 
thoughtlessly squandered away the days that were 
intended to prepare their souls for grace. 

Finally, te called upon the people to show them- 
selves now more than ever the true children of their 
holy Mother, and to devote themselves to certain exer- 
cises to which he particidarly invited thenL He 
exhorted them thus with the twofold intention of 
drawing them away from the profane diversions of the 
carnival, and that the anger of God might be averted 
from those obdurate sinners who had resisted His 

Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

^ As prayer is the great means to this end, he 
3d that the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed 
deration in the cathedral, and in thirty other 
hes, five for each district of the citv. It was 
ed from morning till evening, and the Deposition 
11 as the Exposition was accompanied by a pro- 
n. He desired the rectors of the different churches 
hort their flocks to frequent these Expositions, 
so divide the hours that there might always be 
of the congregation watching before the Blessed 
ment. He also directed the schools of Christian 
ine to repair to one or otlier of the churches in 
ssion, and in the evening after Compline, all 
to assemble in the great church, where a certain 

of time was to be devoted to mental prayer, 
ime useful spiritual exercise. This was to be 
sed to them under distinct heads by a priest 
nted for the purpose. As a further inducement 
e people to attend these devotions, he granted 
n indulcjences to those who should visit the 
3d Sacrament in the churches he had appointed. 

did he watch with pastoral solicitude over the 
of his flock, that he might draw them from the 
md sinful pleasures of the world to the rich spiri- 
•epast that he had prepared for them. 
• wonder that these exercises were greatly blessed, 
cing abundant fruit among the people, not only 

it bt himself let hii flock an example may be seen from a letter 
3mo of February 4, 1574, in which be layi : ** During the next 
ayi I shall make a retreat and give myself to meditation, like 
F, in order to make a good confession. I have determined to pass 
i days of the carnival at Milan, and to keep the people occupied 

Pastoral Labours. 327 

in the city, but throughout the diocese, where he 
had also ordered their celebration. On the last 
Sunday before Lent, which had hitherto been 
the occasion of the greatest disorders of the whole 
year, he appointed a general Communion, which was 
attended by great numbers. The carnival, through 
the zeal of the saint, thus became a holy season like 
Paschal time. 

He devised yet another means to counteract the 
influence of the carnival. This was the general Pro- 
cession of the Stations on Ash Wednesday at the 
church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, just as in Pome 
they commence at the Church of Santa Sabina. He 
had obtained a grant from the Holy Father of the 
same indulgences for the churches in Milan. He drew 
attention to the great importance of this practice in 
the above-named pastoral, earnestly inviting the people 
to join the procession, to which thousands came, and 
the practice is still continued every year. 

( 328 ) 




St. Charles employed <rreat jxart of this year in the 
visitation of the churches of the city and diocese, 
arrangin^t^ for the requivsite reforms, and reaping abun- 
dant fruits of his labours. 

In the course of his visitation at Varese, he learnt 
that the King of France, Henry III., was on his way 
from Poland to take possession of the throne of France, 
to which he had succeeded by the death of his brother, 
Charles IX. The saint was anxious to show every 
mark of respect to Henry on his arrival in his diocese. 
He therefore sent a person of distinction to meet the 
King at Cremona. This envoy was most favourably 
received by Henry, who entrusted him with a letter 
to the Cardinal, expressing his desire to make his 
acquaintance. Learning that it was the King's inten- 
tion to go to Monza without visiting Milan, St 
Charles left Yarese for Saronno, where he expected to 
receive advices from Home as to the honours to be 
paid to the King by himself as Cardinal. This, in- 

Visit paid to Henry III. of France. 329 

deed, was a matter of perfect indifference to the saint 
personally, for his humility placed him far above all care 
for such considerations : but he was desirous of keeping 
up the dignity conferred upon him, which the Council of 
Trent had declared worthy of all honour. He had, more- 
over, before him the example of his holy patron and pre- 
decessor, St. Ambrose, and others, who, however humble 
they were themselves, always insisted upon due reve- 
rence being paid to their office, even by emperors. He 
did not, however, receive instructions in time, and sent 
therefore to Milan for prudent advisers. It was agreed 
that he should avoid meeting the King on his journey, 
because, as the latter would be in his carriage, it would 
not be easy to have the archiepiscopal cross borne 
before himself in case his Majesty should invite him 
into liis vehicle. It was the custom of the Archbishop 
never to go anywhere in his own diocese without 
having his cross carried before him. It was therefore 
determined that he should visit the King at Monza, 
and that he should cover his head, if the king did not 
invite him to do so after the first salutation. These 
arrangements made, St. Charles sent orders to ATilan 
to prepare a rich present for the king, as well as some 
articles of less value for the princes of his suite, desir- 
ing at the same time that some prelates of his house- 
hold should accompany him on the occasion. When 
the king arrived at Monza, the Cardinal met him 
there on the loth August, the feast of St Lawrence, 
martyr. He took up his quarters at the house of 
the arch -priest, and sent Francesco Porro, a Mila- 
nese prelate, to wait upon his Majesty and inquire 

30 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

t what hour it would be convenient to receive him. 
he King asked the intentions of the Cardinal; to 
hich the prelate replied that it depended entirely on 
is Majesty, to whom the Cardinal was ready at once 
\ pay his respects, if such was his good pleasure; 
iding, that otherwise he would first say Mass, and 
len wait upon his Majesty. The King asked with 
)me surprise, whether the Cardinal himself would say 
[ass. On learning that it was his daily practice, he 
inncdiately expressed a wish to assist thereat 

When St. Charles heard of the King's intention, he 
ive orders to make the necessary preparations iu the 
lurch, and then went to pay his visit to the Kinir, 
ssirini:' his cross-bearer to stand near him durimj the 
hole interview. On arriving at the royal apartment, 
J found the antechamber occupied by musicians, who 
ere entertaininG; the Kins: with vocal and instrumental 
usic. As the Cardinal entered, they ceased, and 
ceived his benediction on their knees. 

The King received him most cordially, imme- 
ately desiring him to put on his hat, entering 
to familiar conversation with him, and introducing 
m to the princes who attended him, among whom 
ere the Dukes of Ferrara and Nevers, and a natural 
other of the King, all of whom saluted him with 
eat reverence. After the interview was over, the 
ing walked beside the Cardinal to the church of St. 
)hn, where they were met by the assembled prelates 
id clergy, whom the Cardinal presented to his Ma- 
sty, at his request. Then taking the aspersorium, 
e Cardinal sprinkled holy water over the King and 

Visit paid to Henry III. of France, 33 1 

the assembled personages : going up then to the High 
Altar preceded by his clergy, he celebrated Mass. At 
the conclusion of the Holy Sacrifice the King left the 
Church whilst the Cardinal was unvesting, having first 
saluted him with reverence. Eeturning to the house 
of the arch-priest, St. Charles sent Monsignors Porro 
and Moncta to present a gold crucifix to the King, 
and other pious gifts to the princes. His Majesty 
instantly gave them audience, thanked them, and 
ordered a thousand crowns to be given to each, but 
tliis thcv declined, in accordance with the Cardinal's 
directions. After dinner, the Caixlinal ai:ain visited 
the King, and, whilst conversing, he took occasion to 
offer him suggestions as to the well-ordering of his 
kingdom. He exhorted him to defend and propagate 
the Faith in the most Christian country of France, 
which was at that time sadly infected with heresy. 
He spoke with so much grace and paternal authority 
that the King always retained a pleasing recollection of 
the interview.^ 

When the Sovereign Pontiff learnt the particulars of 
this interview, he commended the Cardinal greatly for 
having improved the occasion, and brought under the 
King's notice the dangers to which religion was at that 
time exposed in his dominions. 

1 Writing to CftrnigUA on the ixth August. St. ClurlM Mjt : *' I met 
the King at Mons% whither he hed irriTed the night hefore. This 
morning I paid him a Tiiit, and took him to the church, where I said a 
low Hats. After dinner, I went to him again, and conTersed with him 
until he entered his carriage. I spoke to him freely in the interesta of 
religion and on the disturbed state of France. As far as I could teU, he 
was not lacking in a spirit of pietj and religion, and, in a word, nothing 
I eonld with was wanting in him." 

32 Life of St, C liar Us Borromeo. 

After the King's departure, God was pleased to make 
iie saint the instrument of a striking miracle. By 
iving his blessing, he cured the daughter of a noble- 
lan at Monza of a severe illness, attributed to the 
gency of the devil. 

After a year of great labour and fatigue in the 
isitation of his diocese, St. Charles, before its close, 
eld his fourth diocesan synod. By way of prepara- 
lon he formed a committee of his Vicars-General and 
ural deans, who sat for three consecutive weeks, and 
lade a report on the results of his former synods, 
f their respective visitations, and the obstacles they 
ad encountered in carrvinc: out his decrees. He then 
rew up a statement of the abuses which remained to 
e corrected, and the means by which he proposed to 
Bmove them. He also set down another subject for 
leir consideration, viz., the revision of the Ambrosian 
'itual. Missal and Breviary. 

By means of this congregation he possessed himself 
f the most minute information respecting the con- 
ition of every part of his diocese, and noted down 
'hat struck him as its present needs, with the best 
leans of supplying them. 

When he opened the synod on the i6th November 
1 the same year, 1574, he was already furnished 
ith all necessary information, and only had to give 
EFect by decrees to the measures he had determined 
pom Among these we may mention one relating to 
le observance of the feasts of the Church, and the 
rievous sin of \iolatini^ them. 

This edict was productive of much good, particulai'lv 

Fourth Diocesan Synod. 


as it was supported bj the power of his archiepiscopal 
tribunal. The Cardinal at the same time published 
another edict as to behaviour in churches and religious 
edifices, and the obligation of Christians to pay them 
due honour, and on the gravity of their profanation. 
At this same time he confirmed and ratified all former 
decrees of his svnods on this subject. The document 
contains twenty-two articles, to two of which we here 

In the first he proliibited the laity from entering 
and occupying places in the choir during the cele- 
bration of the Divine Offices. This had also been 
prohibited by St. Ambrose, who would not suffer even 
the Emperor Theodosius to enter the choir at such 
times, in accordance with the canons. 

The other was a revival of the Apostolic precept, 
that women, of whatever rank or condition, should 
have a covering on their heads in church, and that not 
transparent, but veiling the face completely. This 
order was so favourably received, that the Milanese 
women were wont to put down their veils, not only in 
church, but even in the streets and at the doors of 
their houses when the Archbishop was passing. On 
one occasion, as the writer walked through the streets 
of Milan in company with the Cardinal, a woman who 
passed covered her face, which drew from him the 
remark : " That is the right way of veiling the face, 
as ordered by the Church." 

During this visitation of the diocese he observed 
that there were many collegiate foundations, which it 
was desirable should be transferred to other localities. 

334 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

on account of want of means for keeping up the 
celebration of Divine worship with becoming dignity. 
Finding that one of the quarters of the city, the Porta 
Comasina, was not well provided in this respect, the 
Cardinal resolved to transfer to it one of the above- 
named foundations. Accordingly, he fixed upon the 
collegiate church of Jlonate, founded in 1380 for six 
Canons and an Arch -priest by Bishop Bcsozzo of 
Bergamo, under the dedication of Our Lady of the 
Snow, the patronage being vested in the Chapter of 
Bergamo, in perpetuity. This he transferred, under 
authority of tlie Holy Sec, and by consent of the 
Canons, to the Church of St. Thomas in Terra Amara, 
thus changing it from a parochial into a collegiate 
church. Even thus, the number of Canons appeared 
insufHcient for the needs of the locality. He accord- 
ingly added to them some canonries from Brebbia 
and Abbiaguazzono, with a share of their temporalities. 
This formed altogether a numerous staff under the 
direction of the Arch-priest. The arrangement grati- 
fied the Milanese, as by this means the greater offices 
of the Church were celebrated more worthily, and 
facility was given for the frequentation of the Sacra- 
ments and hearing the Word of God. A stately 
church was subsequently erected here. 

About the same time he formed another collegiate 
church at Besozzo. It was a populous neighbourhood, 
and stood in need of a parish church, and the Cardinal 
deemed it therefore entitled to better spiritual pro- 
vision than it possessed. It had possessed only a 
priory with a revenue of eight hundred crowns ; while. 

Fourth Diocesan Synod. 335 

at the neighbouring town of Brebbia, there was an 
ancient collegiate church of St Peter with a Provost 
and eighteen Canons, besides treasurer and minor- 
canons, all of whom were bound to residence. As 
this church stood in a deserted situation amid un- 
liealthy surroundings, and Divine worship could not 
be properly carried on there, St. Charles transferred 
sbc of its canonries to St. Thomas, leaving a sufficient 
number for the perpetual curacy of Brebbia. The 
revenues of the priory he assigned to the seminary of 
Milan, to relieve the clergy in part from the tithes they 
had previously been called upon to contribute. 

He had thus efiected four considei-able improve- 
ments. I. He had given the church of St Thomas 
in Milan a chapter, and increased the provision for 
Divine worship there. 2. A Provost and twelve 
Canons bound to residence had been established at 
Besozzo in the church of St Alexander, martyr of 
the Theban legion. 3. The contribution paid by the 
clergy to the seminary had been considerably reduced. 
4. The seminary itself had been provided with a 
permanent fund. 




the year 1575 approached, when, according to 
torn, the Sovereign Pontiff celebrated a Jubilee, 
igOTY XIII. published a Bull, in which he opened 

treasury of the Church, inviting the faithful to 
air to Eome and gain the special indulgences by 
king the pilgrimage of the seven churches. This 
11, in accordance with the wishes of his Holiness, 
3 also published at Milan by St Charles, who 
ired the parochial clergy and preachers of the city 
stir up the people to the proper dispositions so as to 
n the fruits of the Jubilee. The Cardinal attached 
at importance to this occasion, looking upon it as 
;olden opportunity for obtaining great graces, and 
ving his flock to renewed holiness of life. In Sep- 
iber, 1574, he addressed them on the Jubilee in a 
itoral letter full of unction, opening with an account 
the origin of this holy ordinance, the intention of 

Church in its institution, the value of the spiritual 
isures at this time offered to the faithful, and con- 

Goes to Rome for the yubilee, 337 

eluded by showing from the lives of the saints how 
the holy year might be well spent. 

To set the example the Cardinal determined to go 
himself to Some to obtain the benefit of the Jubilee, but 
he deferred the journey till the autumn on account of 
the works he had in hand. The Sovereign Pontiff could 
not, however, consent to this delay, and wrote to beg 
him to come even before the Holy Year began, as he 
needed his advice concerning its celebration. 

St. Charles had already written to Bernardo Car- 
niglia to beg him to submit several suggestions to his 
Holiness, reminding him how desirable it would be to 
prepare a hospital for the reception of poor pilgrims, 
and also to send the women of loose character out of 
the city, together with many other regulations of a 
similar kind. 

On deceiving this express invitation from the Holy 
Father, St. Charles at once set aside all other arrange- 
ments and prepared to obey it He only requested 
that he might have in writing the permission of his 
Holiness to leave the diocese, according to the pre- 
scription of the Sacred Canons respecting the absence 
of Bishops. He enjoined the same on his clergy, 
requiring them to obtain the necessary letters before 
they left their cures, and when in Rome they were 
to present themselves to his agent there, Cesare 

St. Charles was obliged to delay his departure for 
some days because he had to leave instructions with 
his vicars-general for the regulation of the diocese in 
his absence. Although he used the utmost diligence, 


S Lijc oj S/. C/uv/l's Doyj'onico. 

preparation of a great mass of documents occnpied 
ny days, although he curtailed his sleep, and went 
lost without food, that notliinc: micrht be omitted. 
A.t last he left Milan on the 8th December. Tlie 
ither was vcrv uufavoiirablc for travelling'. In 
ordance with the sacred object of his journey, he 
ted all the holy places he passed, but he hastened 
rards without any unnecessary delay, as he was 
•ected in Eonie before the ceremony of opening the 
ta Santa, or Holy Door, which is the commence- 
at of the Jubilee. lie said mass every day before 
break by a special faculty fruin the Huly See, and 
eluded his journey on horseback ut'ten as late as 
2e or four hours after sunset, notwithstanding that 

roads were often very bad. He was constantly 
■ring the high road to go and visit holy shrines, as 
naldoli, Alvernia, Vallombrosa, and Monte Oliveto. 

would then spend the whole night in prayer, thus 
ewing, in his person, the memory of the saints who 

there offered themselves a living sacrifice to God, 

incitiuc; himself afresh to imitate them.^ 
^s the route lay over the mountainous parts of 

«aiif ranco Regna, one of St. Charles's companions on this joome j, thus 
ribet it in the process of canonisation : ** The Cardinal always fasted 
is time on bread, chestnuts, and dried figs. It was always at a late 
that we reached our quarters, that were never arranged beforehand, 
lismounting, muddy and cold as we were, often wet through and 
yt tired, we went to his room and said office on our knees, and the 
ies, and spent some time in meditation or heard a sermon or in* 
!tion from him. This took a couple of hours, and then we sapped 
irent to bed. At an early hour the next morning we again met in 
3om to say office and to prepare for mass. In these devotions and 
^ing mass two hours were occupied, after which we mounted our 
»s and rode on till evening. Our resting-places were never ^'^^ 

Goes to Rome for the yubiLe. 


Tuscany, the Cardinal was often exposed to great 
hardships and fatigues. He spent the niglit at the 
first lodging that offered itself when he had done his 
day's journey ; and as he would have no preparation 
made, it frequently happened that beds and food were 
found with difficulty. It was Advent, moreover, when 
he fasted every day as in Lent, taking nothing but 
vegetables and fruit or herbs (he had not yet adopted 
the austere practice of his later years of restricting his 
diet to bread and water), so that tliose who accompanied 
him on this occasion, many of whom are still living, 
declare that there was something marvellous about the 
whole of this journey. 

But spiritual consolations flowed in upon the saint 
in proportion as he afflicted his mortal body. His 
very look indicated that he was constantly absorbed in 
God, and if he spoke it was of heavenly things. He 
was very desirous on this journey of furthering the 
spiritual interests of those who accompanied him, fre- 
quently making them earnest exhortations to kindle in 
their hearts more fervent love of God, and to prepare 
them for an abundant outpouring of Divine grace in 
the time of the Jubilee. 

Here must be mentioned a remarkable occurrence 
by which God was pleased to manifest His special 
providence towards His servant. Their route had 
brought them into one of the most intricate passes of 
the Tuscan Apennines ; the hour was late, and they had 
entirely lost their way in the darkness of the night. 
None of the party being acquainted with the road, 
they wandered about till past midnight in fruitlesa 

5 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

tmpts to find their way. There was considerable 
ger on account of the precipices and loneliness of 
part in which they found themselves. The saint 
)mmended his little band to tlie care of Almighty 
1 to send them aid as He thought fit At lost, to 
ir great surprise, they heard the crowing of a cock 
no great distance. Following up the sound, they 
le upon some peasants' huts, where they took shelter 
the night, though both beds and food were wanting, 
rhey had, however, scarcely establislied tliemselves, 
en four mules laden with provisions happened to 
s by on their way to market. All recognised in 
5 a singular instance of the Providence of God. 
Charles immediately bought what was sufficient to 
jply the wants of the company ; and then applied 
iself to say his office, spending the whole night in 
^otion, while the others snatched what rest they 
lid on some straw until the hour for continuing 
ir journey. 

In this way he reached Eome on the feast of St. 
omas the Apostle, and was received by the Sovereign 
ntiff with great joy. The Pope at once took the 
•rice of St. Charles on several matters, and among 
!m the regulation of the Jubilee. 
His business with the Holy Father concluded, the 
nt wiilulrow to the Carthusian monastery of St. 
iry of tho Angels, where he spent some days in 
tUtivtion and spiritual exercises, with fasts and 
lUt^utial Wiirk8, to prepare himself to gain the 
it^ttmt poHMihh) fruit at that holy time. He made 
ijnnriral t^nnftHsion, and at once proceeded t/- 

His Occupations in the Holy City. 341 

the churches appointed by the Sovereign Pontiff, which 
he did, always walking and sometimes going barefooted. 
He took with him his household, making them walk 
also, which was an edifying sight for the beholders, as 
they were engaged at the time either in vocal or 
mental prayer ; the saint, indeed, being always so united 
with God that nothing had power to distract his 
thoughts. If they happened to pass any of the pre- 
lates or princes who were well known to them, he 
never interrupted his devotions, but merely gave them 
a passing recognition by taking off his hat. This was 
more particularly remarkable when on one occasion 
the Duke of Parma, Ottavio Farnese, happened to 
pass ; though an intimate friend, St. Charles went on 
his way, the Duke being greatly edified, and declaring 
that the Cardinal had taught him the best way of 
practising the devotion of the seven churches. But 
with relations and those with whom he was on terms 
of greater intimacy, he did not think it necessary to 
interrupt his devotions so far even as this. Happen- 
ing one day to meet Marcantonio Colonna on the way 
to the church of St. Paul without the walls, that 
prince with his son Don Fabrizio descended from his 
carriage to salute the Cardinal ; the latter did not so 
much as give any token of noticing their presence, 
nor even bow to his own sister Anna, the wife of 
Fabrizio, who was in the carriage, but passed on as 
if he did not see them, wholly occupied with his 
meditation. His example was looked upon with 
admiration, and many of the nobility even usecl to 
accompany him on his visits to the churches. 

342 Life of St. Cliarles Borrovteo. 

following the exact method of prayer which he had 
prescribed to his household. Besides the churches 
of the Jubilee, St. Charles visited all those which were 
places of special devotion, or possessed any remarkable 
relics. Several times he visited on foot the seven 
churches and the nine basilicas, and nearly every day 
he ascended the Scala Santa on his knees. To these 
continual prayers he added large alms to the poor, and 
e.xercised hospitality towards the pilgrims from ^lilan, 
anil indeed of all nations, lodiiinir them in his official 
residence as titular of iSanta Prassede, where he had 
taken up his aluKlo. 

All this tcndt'd to confirm his reputation for 
saiictitv. lie was held in such veneration that ns he 
passed nlon;^' every one ran out to see him, many of 
the people falling on their knees, all esteeming tliem- 
selves happy who got near enough to him to kiss 
his garments. One day a woman dressed as a pilgrim, 
unable to restrain her devotion, threw herself at his 
feet and kissed them; and tliough he tried to free 
himself, he could not prevent her from publicly 
declarim:: him a saint. On another occasion a noble 
lady did the same, getting out of her carriage on 
purpose to pay him this mark of honour. Other 
pious persons sought eagerly to obtain any object that 
had belonged to him that they might keep it as a 
relic. Among these was Caesar Baronius, priest of 
the Oratory in Rome, afterwards Cardinal, who has left 
a name to posterity both for piety and learning. He 
possessed himself of the shoes which the saint had 
worn on his visits to the churches, and preserved 

His Occupations in the Holy City. 34 3 

them as a precious treasure. Not many days after they 
came into his possession, on the occasion of a young 
girl, Geronima de' Pompei, being exorcised in presence of 
St Philip Xeri in his church of Santa Maria alia Valli- 
cella, the shoes had no sooner touched her than the 
demon uttered dreadful cries as if the pains of hell 
were increased, till at last the remedy and the exor- 
cisms delivered her from her tormentor. 

The report of the sanctity of St. Charles spread 
greatly into other countries through the pilgrims, who 
were very numerous at this Jubilee, more particularly 
from !XIilan, as was remarked. The attention of the 
Sovereign Pontiir havincr been called to the fact that it 
was all owing to the pious exhortations and edifying 
example of the CarcUual Archbishop of Milan, he 
replied : " Yes ! indeed. Who can hope to equal such 
zeal and devotedness ? " 

As St. Charles had come to Ptome for the express 
purpose of gaining the benefits of the Jubilee, he 
devoted himself entirely to exercises of piety. From 
this rule he never deviated, except when the Holy 
Father sent for him to consult him. When he had 
finished his devotions, he then gave his attention to 
matters of business, both of his own diocese, and of 
the Church at large. The benefits derived from this 
as from all his other visits to Borne, were by no 
means confined to himself, but were sources of advan- 
tage to others ; as is shown not only by the increase of 
fervour gained by residence in the . holy city, which 
sent him back into the world possessed, if possible, 
of greater zeal for the service of God, but also by 

Life of SL Charles Borromeo. 

spiritual counsel which, in accordance with the 
^tion of his office of Cardinal, he was able to give 

Pontiflf. He knew his advice would be well 
ived, and would produce fruit by stimulating his 
iness to increased solicitude in the exercise of his 
imo office. For this purpose he began with such 
.ils as the well-ordering of his court and house- 
.. Next, he pointed out how important it was 

the clergy and people of Home should set an 
pug example to so many pilgrims congregated 
e from all parts of the world, so that they might 
y away a high opinion of tlie pastoral solicitude 
piety prevailing in the Papal Court, to their own 
cation and the honour of the Holy See. Gregory 
I. gave the best proof of his appreciation of this 
ce by immediately giving eflect to the suggestions 
he saint. He then called the Pope's attention to 
i^equirements of the various provinces, in order 

the Tridentine reforms might be carried out, re- 
ding the Holy Father that, as supreme Head and 
;or, he had to watch over all Bishops, and kindle 
hem a great love for the whole flock. 
Vq may mention two most important suggestions 
lis. The first was, that the Committee of Car- 
ls for matters relative to the Episcopate, now 
nically called the Congregation of Bishops, should 
erected into a permanent Congregation, that all 
rences might be settled by its decisions ; but espe- 
y in order to introduce by authority of the Holy 
remedies for abuses, and provisions for the better 
trnment of dioceses. The other suggestion was 

His Occupations in the Holy City. 345 

that Visitors appointed by the Apostolic See should be 
sent into every province to receive from the Bishops 
reports on the state of their dioceses, to inquire into 
the observance of the decrees of the Council of Trent 
and the state of discipline among the clergy, so that 
notice to amend such things as were found wanting 
might then be sent by apostolic authority. This he 
took to be an excellent means of maintaining order 
and encouraging improvement throughout the whole 
Church ; and also of keeping the Bishops alive to the 
duties and obligations of their sacred calling. 

The above named Congrei:ation was instituted in 
the time of Pius V., and continues to the present day 
to pursue its labours, being of great service to the 
episcopate and to ecclesiastical discipline. With re- 
gard to liis plan of sending out Visitors, this had only 
as yet been done in the States of the Church and 
some other parts, and the saint now urged the Sove- 
reign Pontiff to extend this beneficial practice to the 
whole Church. Accordingly they were sent out into 
many provinces. St. Charles, in his conscientious 
performance of every duty, acknowledged that, as an 
Archbishop, it behoved him to perform this service 
throughout his own province: but at the same time 
he begged the Sovereign Pontiff to mark that it was 
impossible for him to take every part of it into his 
account, by reason of its extent, and, therefore, he be- 
sought him to appoint Visitors for his own diocese 
also, though he did this principally with the view of 
setting a good example, and making the first experi- 
ment of the plan, in order that other Archbishops 

346 Life of SL Charles Borrainco. 

might be more zealous in observing the ancient prac- 
tice of making themselves acquainted with the whole 
of their provinces by these >'isitations. The Pope 
acceded to his proposal, and appointed Girolamo 
Eagazzoni, Bishop of Famagosta/ Visitor of the pro- 
vince of Milan. 

Besides these matters, other measures were discussed 
which had especial reference to the diocese of Milan. 
The saint laid its secret needs before his Holiness, 
and obtained ample faculties from him. In particular 
he obtained the Jubilee of the holy year for the city 
and diocese of Milan, with power to appoint the 
churches and the time and manner of fultillin" the 
conditions, for the next year, i 576. He also obtained 
some privileges for the city, the Indulgences of the 
Seven Churches of Eorae for the same number of 
churches in ililan, according to his judgment. His 
Holiness furnished him further with a number of rosa- 
ries, crucifixes, and medals, with particular indulgences 
attached to them, which he might afterwards distribute 
among his people for the increase of tlieir devotion. 
For himself he obtained a favour of a peculiar kind ; 
namely, permission to drop his family name and arms 
of Borromeo, and to adopt in the stead of the former 
his cardinalitial title of Santa Prassede only, and for the 
latter, figures of St. Ambrose and the martyrs Gerva- 
sius and Protasius, with the motto : Tales amhio defen- 
sores : " his motives being humility and desire of imi- 
tating the saints. 

* Afterwards Biabop of Bergamo. 
3 '* Such are the protectors I desire.' 

( 347 ) 




D/ D 

Gregory XIIL, like his predecessor in the Apostolic 
See, perceived great advantages to be derived from the 
constaut counsels of a prelate of such zeal and sagacity 
as St. Charles. He therefore urged him to remain in 
Home, that he mijjht continue to benefit bv his advice. 
But St. Charles could not endure to be absent for any 
length of time from his diocese, and begged the Holy 
Father so earnestly to allow him to return, that the 
Pope felt himself bound, however unwillingly, to give 
him permission to quit Eome. He set out, accordingly, 
on his return early in Febriiary, after a stay of little 
more than a montL He returned with spiritual 
treasures for his Church, filled with a new spirit to 
devote himself more and more completely to the 
salvation of the souls committed to his charge. 

He had promised Don Cesare Gonzaga, his cousin, 
and his sister Donna Camilla, that he would visit them 
at Guastalla on bis way home, and consecrate a church 
lately erected there. On his arrival at Bologna news 
was brought him, before he had dismounted from his 

348 Life of St. C/iarles Borromeo. 

horse, that Don Cesare was lying dangerously ill, and 
was not expected to recover. Without stopping to 
take any rest he immediately set out for Guastalla, 
whither he arrived only in time to find the prince 
delirious, and incapable of benefiting by his minis- 
trations. The saint had immediate recourse to prayer, 
both public and private, having the Blessed Sacrament 
exposed in the church, where he watched all night, 
oflfering up his intercessions for his relative. Nor 
were his petitions poured forth in vain. Before 
morning the dying man recovered his senses, and 
God was pleased to give him such abundance of grace, 
that he received the last Sacraments in the best dis- 
position, and, aided by the pious exhortations of the 
Cardinal, he died with great serenity and perfect con- 
ibrmity with the will of God, so that St. Charles 
afterwards was heard to say in public that he was as 
well prepared for death as if he had passed many 
years in religion. After the funeral St Charles con- 
secrated the church, and then returned to Milan, after 
having consoled his sister for her loss, and given her 
good counsel on the management of her family. 

At Milan the people came out in crowds to welcome 
their beloved pastor. He immediately applied himself 
to prepare for the visitation of the dioceses of his 
province conformably with the order of the Pope. He 
would not, however, set out until he had given a 
cordial reception to the pontifical Visitor, the Bishop 
of Famagosta,^ who arrived at Milan in May. 

^ Aj Bishop of Nazianzum he preached before the CouncU of Trent. 
After his tnuxslation to Famagosta in the island of Cyprus, his dio<*^«* 

Visitation of the Diocese of Cremona. 349 

The Cardinal paid him every possible homage in 
testimony of his veneration for the holy Apostolic 
See, and as a lesson to his people of the reverence due 
to the messengers of God. He gave him all necessary 
information, and as a preparation, ordered prayers in 
public and private, together with a solemn procession, 
to invoke the blessing of God upon the work. Mass 
was then sung by Monsignor Famagosta, who preached 
a sermon upon the importance of the Visitation. • 
Having thus seen it fairly set on foot, St Charles 
started himself on the appointed task of visiting the 
rest of his province, beginning with Cremona. His 
suite consisted of only six pei-sons, and though in 
conformity with the decrees on the subject, at the 
charge of the clergy of each parish, he ordered that 
everything should be provided on the most frugal scale 
that he might not be burdensome to any one. 

Nicold Sfrondato, Bishop of Cremona, was absent 
at the time on important business, but the clergy 
of the city received him with great reverence, 
omitting nothing which could tend to show their 
obedience. As usual, his first care was to invite the 
people to unite in public prayer and solemn procession 
for the success of bis work, during which time he 
gave Holy Communion to upwards of eight thousand 
persons, who flocked from all parts to receive the 
Bread of Angels at his hands. 

Although this diocese was of great extent and thickly 
populated, St Charles completed its visitation in the 

wai oTermn bj the Turki, when he took refuge in Rome, and was em- 
ployed in the Tiiitation of the dioceses of RaTenna and Urbino, and 
ftnaUj waa made Bishop of Bergamo. 

350 Life of SL Charles Borromco. 

space of three months. lu his zeal he cheerfally 
laboured by night as well as by day, abridging the 
little time he allowed himself for sleep. All these 
labours came upon him at the hottest season of the 
year, which aggravated his fatigues. He was, however, 
greatly encouraged by the success of his work, the 
clergy and people yielding everywhere to his gentle 
words, and still more to his saintly example. God 
was pleased to encourage His servant by a miraculous 
cure in the person of Signor Bartolomeo Scalvi, who 
was raised from his bed and a dangerous illness after 
receiving a visit from the saint, as we read in docu- 
ments of the ecclesiastical tribunal of Cremona, in the 
process concerning the miracles of the saint. His 
authority and zeal were efficacious in bringing about a 
salutary reform amoni]; the clercry and in the convents 
of nuns who had not yielded due obedience to their 
Bishop, who was much consoled on hearing of the 
results obtained by the Cardinal, who may indeed be 
said to have been an apostle in his diocese, both by his 
holy example and the liberality he exercised towards 
the poor. 

He concluded this visitation in time to return to 
Milan on the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, the 
anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral of 
Milan. He then prepared to visit the diocese of 
Bergamo, which in temporal government was under 
the Eepublic of Venice. When the Venetian senate 
was informed of his intention, they sent express orders 
to the magistracy of Bergamo to receive him with 
special honours, and to give him every assistance in 

Visitation of the Diocese of Bergamo. 35 1 

the work he had undertaken, as a testimony of the 
devotion entertained towards him by their ancient 
Eepublic. These orders were scrupulously obeyed, 
and the Bishop and clergy emulated this example, for 
Federico Cornaro/ wlio then occupied the Episcopal 
chair, was a vigilant pastor of souls. 

The saint observed the same onler in this visitation 
as in the preceding, but his labours were rendered 
more fatiguing by the mountainous character of the 
country, and the rugged paths over which he had to 
travel. His efforts were, however, crreatlv blessed, as 
the devout Bergamese people ilocked in crowds to 
listen to the exhortations and receive Communion 
from him. Everywhere men and women forsook their 
toils to fill the churches, so that in one day he gave 
Communion to as many as eleven thousand pei*sons. 
These and other episcopal functions often kept him 
whole days in the church, but he never tired or was 
troubled by his exertions. The magistrates of the 
city, moreover, encouraged the people by their example 
in joyfully attending the religious offices. Among 
other tokens of esteem, a public oration was delivered 
by their direction, to thank him for having thus re- 
vived the ancient practice of metropolitans visiting 
the churches of their province. 

During his stay in this place St Charles made a 
solemn translation of the bodies of the holy martyrs, 
Firmus and Rusticus, which gave rise to some difficulty 
and confusion. These sacred bodies were preserved in 

the church of some nuns in a suburb of the citv. 


^ Af tenrtrdi Bithop of PftduA and Cardinal, died at Boma X59a 

352 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

Finding the convent ill-adapted for the purpose for 
which it was used, St Charles wished to remove it to 
another site, intending, at the same time, to make the 
translation of the holy relics with solemnity. But the 
inhabitants of the vicinity rose up in a body on hear- 
ing that they were to be deprived of their treasure. 
With great violence they came to the church before 
the time appointed for the removal, forced the priest 
who had charge of the relics to point out their resting- 
place, before which they stationed themselves, defying 
any one to approach or touch them. When the Car- 
dinal expressed displeasure at their violence, the rioters 
sought to make their peace with him, affirming that 
they had erred through ignorance. St. Charles was 
soon satisfied, and gave them absolution from censures 
they had incurred at the church-porch, pointing out, 
at the same time, the gravity of the offence that had 
been committed. He then carried out the ceremony 
of translation with all due honours, those j^rho had at 
first opposed him assisting in the procession. The 
sacred relics were deposited in a larger church, and 
the devotion of the people for their holy martyrs was 
greatly increased. They likewise conceived great 
veneration for the saint, and were not slow to perceive 
that he was even more distinguished for holiness than 
report had spread abroad. When he left them to 
return to Milan, the whole city turned out to take 
leave of him, following him to the gates, and gazing 
after him with yearning hearts. 

( 353 ) 




Although St. Charles had obtained from the Holv 
Father the Jubilee of the Holy Year for his diocese, 
he did not publish it till the year 1 5/6, so as not to 
interfere with pilgrims going to Eome itself. He then 
addressed to his flock a pastoral letter, breathing a 
spirit of tenderness and fervour, and enlarging upon 
the graces offered them. He called upon them to show 
their gratitude for so great a benefit by doing their 
best to gain it. With great severity he denounced the 
prevailing vices of the age, reproving especially the 
vanity of the female sex as unworthy of their Chris- 
tian profession, and the root of many mortal sins. 
The Jubilee was given them as an opportunity of 
repairing the past and entering upon a new life, the 
end proposed by the Church in granting indulgences. 
He concluded by giving them some rules for gaining 
the full benefit of the Jubilee. Four Stational churches 
were appointed as follows : the cathedral, the great 
church of St. Ambrose, and those of St Laurence and 
St Simplicianus. Attached to the pastoral letter were 

VOL. L T* 

14 Life of St. Charles Borronzeo. 

rtain directions for the Jubilee, and the prayers to 

used in the churches. 

For the greater benefit of strangers visiting the city 
this occasion, he directed Luigi Bascapd, one of 
e Canons of the cathedral/ who was a member of 
3 household, to draw up an account of the churches 
Milan, and the holy relics deposited in them. Father 
ovanni Battista Perusco, of the Society of Jesus, 
ovost of San Fedele, also drew up a little handbook 
: gaininc: the Jubilee. 

The order of the processions, the days and churches 
p the devotions and the special prayers, the con- 
jsors for the different churches, were all set down 
d published. The churches, by his direction, were 
tingly decorated during the whole time of the Jubilee, 
e relics in each exposed, with great reverence, for 
e devotion of the faithful. In each church a tablet 
xs fixed in some conspicuous place, with an account 

the relics there deposited, and another with a list of 
''mns to be sung, and prayers most appropriate for 
ch saint. The Divine Offices were ordered to be 
ng with more than usual solemnity in the cathedral 
id in all the collegiate churches. In all the churches 
e Salve Eegina and some other prayers were to be 
.ng every evening during the Jubilee, in the Stational 
lurches with especial solemnity. The churches were 

be provided with divisions of wooden panelling to 
parate men from women. Curtains had previously 
rved the purpose, but as a greater concourse of per- 
ns might naturally be expected during the Jubilee, 

^ Afterwards Bishop of NovAra. 

The yubilee of the Holy Year. 355 

St Charles thought that a solid wooden barrier would 
act as a surer preventive of possible scandals. 

In special cases he granted dispensations in accord- 
ance with individual circumstances, as regarded the 
visits, though he would not allow them to be made on 
horseback or in a carriage, but required all to go on 
foot ; but for the old and sick he made tlie conditions 

For the convenience of pilgrims from the countrj' 
large crosses were set up by the rural deans and parish 
priests to point out the roads, and to remind them of 
the Passion of our Lord. Hostels also were made ready 
for the reception of pilgrims of both sexes. As these 
preparations had not been made without considerable 
expense to himself, he placed these houses under the 
supervision of some of the chief nobility, who were to 
take care that there should be no lack of what was 

The Jubilee was begun on the Feast of the Purifica- 
tion of Our Lady. After the procession of candles 
St Charles celebrated mass pontifically in presence of 
the Governor, senate, and magistrates of the city. He 
preached on the singular grace conferred upon them 
by the Holy Father in granting them this Jubilee, 
and exhorted them all to avail themselves of it worthily 
in a spirit of true penitence, and in the practice of 
alms-deeds and good works. He then had the Brief 
of his Holiness read, as well as the regulations he bad 
himself drawn up for the observance of the holy season, 
together with his decree concerning the reverence due 
to churches and holy places. On the three following 


356 Life of St. Charles B or romco. 

days he ordered processions, viz., on Wednesday, to 
Great St. Ambrose ; on Friday, to St Laurence ; and 
on Saturday, to St. Simplicianus. The Forty Hours' 
prayer was held before the Blessed Sacrament in the 
cathedral to pray that God would infuse the spirit of 
true devotion into the souls of His people. He also 
sought to increase the fervour of the people by trans- 
lating to the cathedral the body of St. ilonas, Arch- 
bishop of Milan, from its resting-place in the church 
of St. Vitalis, which, sometimes called La Faustiniana, 
belonged to the Cistercian Fathers, to whom he had 
granted leave to take it down, transferring the cure of 
souls to another church in a better situation. 

On the evening of Tuesday, the 5 th February, the 
saint went to St. Vitalis, together with his Canons, and 
placed the relics of the saint in a shrine lined with 
silk, deposited upon the altar, before which they 
watched in turn during the night. On Wednesday 
morning, the clergy, regular and secular, assembled for 
the first procession to St. Ambrose, and were followed 
by the nobility and magistrates, together with the 
Apostolic Visitor, to the church of St. Vitalis, where 
the two Prelates took the shrine upon their shoulders, 
formed procession again back to the cathedral amid 
lighted tapers, to the sound of trumpets and singing 
of hymns. The people declared that heaven itself 
had taken part in their joy by dispelling the clouds 
which on the previous day had threatened a storm. 

Upon their arrival at the cathedral the body of the 
saint was laid upon the High Altar, while the Cardinal 
in a few words recounted the praises of St. Monas, who 

The Jubilee of i/ie Holy Year. 357 

was the sixth Bishop of Milan, and one of its citizens, 
belonging to the ancient family of the Borri, endeared 
to the Milanese by his zeal during an episcopate of 
fifty-nine years. To him was due the division of the 
city into a hundred and fifteen parishes, and at his 
death he left the whole of his patrimony to the diocese. 
The ceremony of the translation was brought to a 
close in the evening by the deposition of the relics in 
the Scurolo, or crypt of the cathedral, the Apostolic 
Visitor preaching on the occasion. 

The second procession to the church of St. Laurence 
took place on Friday ; and on the following day that 
to St. Simplicianus, where another translation of relics 
was made, viz., that of the bodies of the holy martyrs 
Fidelis and Carpophorus, which after being laid in 
the abbey of Arena, and when all record of the ex- 
act spot where they rested had been lost, were dis- 
covered by the Jesuit fathers under the high altar of 
the church when it came into their possession. As 
St Fidelis was the chief patron of their church in 
Milan, it was deemed but fitting that his body should 
be removed thither. St. Charles gave his consent, and 
directed the Fathers to place the relics in the church 
of St. Simplicianus, whence he would himself translate 
them to St. Fidelis. 

The people of Arena, however, were loth to part with 
their treasure, and appealed to the Cardinal, praying him 
to support their claim. The saint was glad at heart to 
find the spirit of devotion in his flock, and consoled them 
with a promise that a portion at least should remain in 
their church. In the meantime he proceeded with die 

358 Life of SL Charles Borronuo. 

translation, which took place on the Saturdaj with 
the same ceremonies as before. 

The next day, Sunday, closed the Forty Hours' 
prayer, which had been attended by numbers of 
devout worshippers, as a separate hour of watching 
had been fixed for each parish, chapter, convent and 

In making the visits to the Stational churches St. 
Charles himself was first and foremost. He frequently 
went in company with his Chapter, and also attended 
by his household, wlio walked along iu order of two 
abreast while he ful'.owed. 0:teu lie would iio bare- 
footed, but so that none could observe it : ^ on the 
wav thev recited psalms and hvmns and litanies. 
"When they arrived and knelt down in prayer, the people 
following in after them, the saint would then turn 
round and urge them in a few fervent words to 
compunction and penance, finishing with giving them 
a blessing with the relics that were exposed. It 
was often late in the evening before he returned, 
though he was fasting all the while, as also were those 
whose devotion had prompted them to accompany 

He earnestly exhorted all thus to visit the churches, 
and to facilitate this end he abbreviated the fifteen 
days of the Visits. The whole city seemed constantly 
alive with the various streams of devout worshippers, 
while their hymns of praise resounded on every side. 

^ At this time the s&int had reconne to artifice to hide his aasteritj, 
wearing shoes without any soles in order to hare the pain onlj of going 
barefoot without the praise of men. — O. 

The Jubilee of the Holy Year, 359 

So judicious were the regulations of the Cardinal that 
the most perfect order reigned throughout the throngs. 
His calls to penance found their response iu many 
breasts, so that long processions of penitents might 
often be seen clothed in sackcloth, scourging themselves 
as they went. There were seen also many of the 
nobility, and especially ladies, also in sackcloth, their 
feet bare, with ropes round their necks, crucifix iu 
hand, wending their way to the churches. It was 
as if the penance of Xineveh were renewed in Milan. 
Most consoling indeed was the spectacle ; and many 
hands were lifted up to Heaven in thanksgiving for 
the zeal of their holy Pastor. 

Every part of the diocese furnished its procession 
of pilgrims all moving to the common centre, all 
desirous to gain the Jubilee, and though they came 
from afar, both men and women often went barefooted. 
For their bodies their Pastor provided sustenance, as 
for their souls. As each company reached the cathedral 
he either addressed them himself or deputed some one 
to do so in his stead, and then administered to them 
the Bread of Life. In the hostels, where everything 
needful was in readiness for them, he used to visit 
them and supply anything wanting from his own 
bounty. There were often as many as six thousand 
seated at the tables where their repast was spread. 
He washed their feet and performed for them every 
office of charity, while many looked on and wondered, 
moved to tears at the sight While the tables were 
laid out with meats for the body, spiritual food was 

360 Life of St, Charles Borromeo. 

not omitted, for certain religious were appointed to 
exhort them during their meal to holiness and piety 
of life. 

Whilst thus unwearied in his labours for those of 
his people who were living in the worid, the Canlinal 
did not forget the needs of those who were shut out 
from the public devotions in cloisters. As the choicest 
of his flock, he drew up special rules for their Jubilee, 
their prayers, and the adoration of the Forty Hours 
in their enclosures. lie sent them also special 
directions tliat they might have every assistance and 
tliat the fruits of the holv scvason miciht be ;:athero<l 
in most abundantlv bv tliem. 

While solicitous for the souls of others he did not 
neglect his own, increasing his prayers and alms as 
well as the works of penance he was wont to exercise ; 
such as fasting and discipline, the use of the hair shirt 
and sleeping upon boards. It is reported by some mem- 
bers of his household that he adopted this last-named 
austeritv in satisfaction for an act of ne^liirence which 
he attributed to himself, though it was really no fault 
of his, owing to which some of the pilgrims found no 
beds ready for them. 

In the midst of the Jubilee it was reported that the 
plague had broken out in Venice and Mantua ; and 
the Governor of Slilan in his regard for the public 
health felt bound to prohibit any from entering Milan 
who did not bring a certificate that the place whence 
they came was free from infection. This order putting 
a stop to the processions, the Cardinal contented him- 

The Jubilee of the Holy Year. 36 1 

self therefore with repairing the loss in some degree 
by making use of the faculty he had received from 
the Holy See to extend the benefits of the Jubilee to 
other places. He abridged also the number of days 
and times of visiting the churches, so that none might 
be deprived of its privileges. 

Note on p, 356.— "5e. Jlonn*.'* 

This taint is reckoned the sixth Bishop of Milan, cire. A.D. 183-238. 
.ind flourished durini; the pontificates uf Voitet St. Elcutheriut, .St. 
Victor, and St Pontianus. 

( 362 ) 






RING the Jubilee, the Cardinal held his Fourth 
vincial Council. It had been fixed for the loth 
Y in this year, and though his time was so much 
en up with the devotion of the time, he would not 
5go any of the usual ceremonies, or diminish his 
)urs; so that he seldom had more than two or 
56 hours* sleep. The Bishops of the province 
inded its deliberations together with the Apostolic 
itor, and decrees of further reform were confirmed 


There was in Milan at this time a physician, Gio- 
jtti Angelo Cerro by name, by whose advice St. 
tries was guided in medical matters. He, in turn, 
led so much from his intercourse with the saint, 
!; he used to practise great charity towards the poor 
Christ, and to give them medicine without fee or 
ard. Moreover, when he was called to a better 

he left his property to the Archbishop of Milan 

Return of the Apostolic Visitor, 363 

and the Provost-General of the Oblates of St. Ambrose 
in charge for the poor, who have held his name in 

This worthy physician took advantage of the assem- 
bly of Bishops in Milan to point out to them that the 
health of the Cardinal was endangered by his austeri- 
ties, more particularly by his sleeping upon boards, 
which would, he affirmed, shorten the life of the saint. 

The Bishops, in consequence, used their best en- 
deavours to induce him to moderate this severity 
to himself. St. Charles replied, that he had not 
forgotten that the Apostle spoke of " our rcasutiahlc 
sa'vicc," ^ and that his penance was always guided by 
a prudent discretion. However, he listened to them 
with humility, thanking them for their advice, which 
he knew sprung from their affection towards him, but 
at the same time urged that what he did was not 
disproportioned to his strength. In order that he 
might not seem to set little store by their counsel, he 
consented to use a covering over the boards which 
served him for a bed, though it was only of sackcloth, 
and a little straw for a pillow. 

The Apostolic Visitor had now finished his labours 
in carrying out the decrees of the Council of Trent, 
and after having fully secured the Archbishop's right 
of visitation of various hospitals and pious founda- 
tions, he left Milan. 

This visitation had given great satisfaction to the 
Cardinal. In his sincere desire to see his diocese 
thoroughly reformed, be rejoiced that another should 

^ Bommi xii. z. 

364 Life of St^ Charles Borromeo. 

examine into his work and point out to him his defi- 
ciencies. He would often say tl:at experience had 
taught him the great benefit of this supervision; for 
no man has sufficient natural licjht to see his own 
faults, although he be sharp-sighted enough in discern- 
ing those of others. In his visitation of other dioceses 
he found many defects that threw light on his own 
shortcomings, whilst the visitation made by others of 
liis own diocese enlicjhtened him as to manv failings 
that had hitherto escaped notice. 

His labours terminated, iloiisi^nor Famaeosta took 
occasion to announce his departure to the people. He 
added that he had found everything in such excellent 
order that he had been much edified therebv, and that 
there was notliin'j: left for him but to confirm what 
had already been done by their Pastor. The Cardinal 
replied with humility, that the words of St. Peter 
might be appropriately used by himself, " We have 
laboured all the nighty and have taken nothing ^ but, at 
Thy Word, I loill Id down the net : " ^ he had hitherto 
done nothing, but that, at the word spoken by the 
Apostolic See through its appointed Visitor, he would 
again let down the net, in the confidence that he 
should not fail to obtain a blessing. In this way he 
wished to testify his affection and reverence towards 
the Holy See, and thank the Bishop for his labours in 
the diocese. 

The next undertaking of the saint was the transla- 
tion of more relics. The Fathers of Mount Olivet 
had lately rebuilt their church of St. Victor, anciently 

1 St. Luke ▼. 5. 

Translation of Relics. 365 

called La Forziana. It became necessary, therefore, 
to transfer the relics of St. Victor and other saints from 
the old to the new building. St Charles accordingly 
veriiied the relics with great care, and in so doing 
discovered among them, to his surprise, the body of 
St. Satyrus, Confessor, brother of St. Ambrose, duly 

On the day before the feast of St James, he 
arranged the relics in seven rich slirines, and held the 
accustomed vigil before them. Early the following 
morning, he returned home ; and, at the appointed 
hour, went with a procession of clerg}' and people 
from the cathedral to the church of St. Victor. Here 
they took up the sacred shrine, which was borne in 
turns by the Cardinal with his Canons and the Fathers 
of Mount Olivet. The procession was followed by 
great numbers of people, and the houses on the way 
were all decorated. Arrived at their destination, the 
holy relics were laid upon the High Altar during the 
day, to give opportunity to the people to satisfy their 
devotion. In the evening St Charles returned, and 
the seven shrines were arranged in due order in pre- 
sence of notaries. The relics of St Victor and St. 
Satyrus were placed beneath the High Altar, and the 
others, being unknown, were deposited in a subter- 
ranean chapel or scurolo, constructed for the purpose 
by order of the Cardinal He did not, on this occa- 
sion, invite the attendance of other Bishops, on account 
of the plague which had broken out in March near 
Arona, on the Lago Maggiore, which news naturally 
filled men with anxiety. For the same reason, St 

>6 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

larles put off his Tisitation of the diocese of Bresciay 
lich he had annoanced, as he was loth to abandon 
I beloved city in a time of danger. 
The fears of the people were not nnfonnded. It 
IS not long before the dreaded pestilence made its 
17 into Milan itself, where the Cardinal remained, 
sied in carrvins out the recommendations of the 
x>stolic Visitor. 

iVote on p. 363. —'• Medical maWm." 

It Charles did not entertain a rery higb opinion of pbytieinns. To 
Biabop of Cremona, afterwards Gregory XIV., on Ids return from 
lua. whitlior he hnd gone to consult them for the stone, he wrote as 
ows : ** I congmtulatc you on your return from Padua in a better 
fee of health, mid am glad that you have escaped safely ont of the 
ids of tho doctors, whom I recommend you to avoid as far as possible, 
ourse which trill go far towards keeping you in good health. Only 
to them in the last resort." 

yote on p, 364.—" Fathers of Mount Olivet.** 

>r, Olivetans, a Benedictine congregation, so called from their prin- 
il monastory on Mount Olivet, near Arezzo. They wero founded by 
Bernardo Tolomei. of Sienna, in 1319. In the beginning of the six- 
Qth century the church of St. Victor in Milan was given to them, and 
[560 they began to rebuild it, and opened it again in this year, 1576. 

Book iV. 

C H A r T E 11 I. 



Before the holy season of the Jubilee had drawn to a 
close, a certain prince of high degree ^ paid a visit 
to Milan. Some of the nobles, desirous to pay 
court to him, prepared to entertain him with tour- 
naments and other public games and spectacles. 
All this was at the very moment when the Cardinal 
was earnestly engaged in endeavouring to unite all 
his people in exercises of devotion. He readily 
discerned the hand of the enemy in this work, 
leading his people away, and cooling their fervour by 
these excitements. What, indeed, could grieve him 
more than to see these snares spread for them, and 
the piety he had striven to enkindle smothered by 
vain attractions of the world ? 

Yet so it was. The last day of the holy season had 
hardly closed when a flourish of trumpets and drums 

1 This w»f Don John of Anstria, who was tent at thia time into Flan- 
ders hj PbiUp IL-0. 

368 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

announced the beginning of these diversions. Tlie 
streets which had lately been paced by penitents in 
sackcloth now reeled with crowds of maskers in the 
ffaudv liveries of the world. These were evidences of 
a lightness and instability of purpose which wounded 
the heart of the saint. Great indeed was the grief 
with which he foretold the punishments which would 
shortly come upon his infatuated flock. I well remem- 
ber the sorrow with which he used to speak of it. 
One (lay he put into my hands a letter from the 
archpriest of ilonza, Jerome Maggiolini, a native of 
Milan and friend of his own, telling how his people 
were dying in numbers every day of a dire disease 
which the doctors took to be fever. "When I had read 
it, he observed that the doctors were mistaken — it was 
the plague ; and he added, speaking without reserve, 
that the people of Milan had called down upon them- 
selves the wrath of God bv their inmratitude and for- 
getfulness of His mercies ; that the intelligence we 
had just received was but the forerunner of afflictions 
in the future, and we might rest assured that there 
was no help but to throw ourselves on His mercy 
with prayer and compunction of heart I spoke of 
the excellent sanitary precautions which had been 
taken to prevent the spread of the malady. But he 
answered with a sigh, that mere human precautions 
could not prevail against the avenging hand of God- 
No more was said on that occasion, but I well under- 
stood how certain he felt of the truth of his words. 
And it was so. In the midst of these diversions the 
plague was discovered in the heart of the city. 

Milan visited by t/ie Plague. 369 

Then mirth was changed into mourning. The prince, 
in whose honour this unseasonable merry-making was 
held was the first to take fright and fly to Genoa in 
hot haste, followed by the Grovemor and many of the 
nobles, leaving the city full of dismay. 

Very diflfereut was the conduct of the Cardinal In 
the midst of the revels news had been brought him 
of the serious illness of Antonio Scarampa, Bishop 
of Lodi, and he had immediately set out to visit him. 
On reaching Melegnano, about half-way, the tidings 
came that the Bishop had already passed to his rest 
He therefore put on mourning, and reached Lodi in 
time to officiate at the funeral rites of the deceased 
with all his accustomed devotion, and was so engaged 
when three cases of plague were announced, two at 
Milan aud the third at Melegnano. 

Although he was not imprepared for the blow, it 
was with sorrow that he saw the hand of God stretched 
out in punishment upon his beloved flock. Neither 
did he hesitate for a moment to return, and passing 
through the city had an opportunity of witnessing 
with his own eyes the trouble of the citizens at being 
suddenly deserted by the nobles, their alarm and con- 
fusion, not knowing what to do for the best 

The presence of their Pastor restored confidence, and 
the whole city gathered round him, now their only 
hopa Falling on their knees around him, they bathed 
his feet with their tears, and besought him to take 
pity on them. Passing through their midst, he made 
for the cathedral, as was his wont, and there offered 
up his prayers. Mounting his horse again, he went 

TOL L "i- ^ 

Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

) the hoQse of a ladj' of the Babia family, near the 
hurch of La Scala, where the plague had broken out, 
nd found some Ursuline' nuns there, ignorant of the 
ature of the malady. He immediately took steps to 
;olate them, placing them in a vacant convent in the 
."ard of the I'orta Comasina, and keeping them apart 
1 dilTercnt cells for a time, thus preserving them both 
■om harm to themselves and from spreadiug the con- 
igion among others. 

On reaching his own house he icas met hy a deputa- 
ion of officers of the crown and members of the 
lunicipal council, begging him by the love he bore 
is people to aid them in their necessity ; acknow- 
;dging that God was chastising them, and feeling 
tterly at a loss what to do. In their perplexity they 
ame to him as their father to learn how to mitigate 
he evils by which the city was stricken. 

In reply lie assured them of his earnest desire to 
evote himself to their aid in this time of need, and 
egged them to take courage, and ou no account to 
bandon the city, as others had done; promising that 
lod would amply reward them for any public services 
, might be in their power to render in alleviation of 
he distress. Thus he dismissed them consoled and 
trengtbeced in mind. 

Being fully persuaded that this visitation had been 
ent as a chastisement for sin, be gave himself up to 
rayer with greater frequency and fervour than usual 
avert the anger of God, and to ask for light 
J know and grace to do His holy will. These 

> Belangine to a community [oDDdtd bf tbe aiuDt hiimslf.— O. 

Milan visited by the Plague. 3 7 1 

prayers he accompanied by increased fasts and auste- 
rity of life, depriving himself of his straw pallet,^ 
sleeping upon bare boards, with only a sheet for cover- 
let, and spending great part of his nights in prayers 
and tears, chastising in himself the sins of others in 
order to appease the indignation of God against his 

Besides this he ordered three solemn processions of 
all the clergy and" people, which were attended by 
great numbers of the religious orders and of the 
magistrates. When they came to the churches he 
preached to the people, exhorting them to do penance, 
and reproving boldly the shortcomings of the rulers 
of the city in delaying so long to turn to God and to 
repentance, the true means of propitiating Him ; adding 
that one ofifence among others which called down this 
scourge upon them was the edict which had not been 
repealed, forbidding the meetings of confraternities of 
penitents and others, thus preventing many spiritual 
exercises^ and means of invoking the mercy of God. 
Among other evil consequences of this, he mentioned 
that the people, debarred from these ways of devotion 
on festival-days, had been tempted to give themselves 
up entirely to vain pastimes and amusements. Finally, 
he exhorted all to amendment of life, and to good 
works of almsgiving and visiting the poor and sick. 

' On hifl return from the hospital one day he sent thither the straw 
pallet which he used in deference to the wishes of the Suffragan Bishops, 
expressed at the last Provincial Council. Another that was substituted 
he also despatched to the same pliice, forbidding any more to be given 
him, as he intended to sleep on bare boards.— O. 
' The saint referred here to the processions which had been forbidden. 

Life of St. Charles Borromeo. I 

iTotwithstanding the saint's exertions in moving the 
pie to appease the Divine anger, the plagne con- 
led to extend its ravages day by day, God so por- 
ting it in His unsearchable judgments. It was no 
;er the district of the Porta Comasina that suffered, 

from eveiy part of the city came rumours of the 
^e, so that tlie hospital of St Gregoiy without 

walls was restored to its original purpose as a 
t-house, and the infected were sent thither to be 
»arated from the rest of the community. 

Page 367. — ** A certain prince of high tlcgree." 

T W. Stirling-Max treU. in his "Don John of Austria," 2 vols., 1883, 
I not seem to heware of a visit of this prince to Milan at this time. 
3rdiog to him we find Don John in Maj 1576 at Naples, by August 
e is at Barcelona, bj September aa in Madrid, on October 31 at Paris 
lis waj to Flanders, vol. ii. p. zt6, 122, Don John visited Milan 
I Vigevano in May, June, and July of 1574, p. 54, and invited 
TV III. of France, then at Venice, on his way home from Poland, to 
; him in the Lombard capital, but the invitation was declined. 

Page 372. — ** The house of a lady of the Balia family.** 

liis occurred on August 12, 1576. On the day before, August xi, 
*e had been a case of plague in the Porta Comasina district. 

( 373 ) 





The friends of the Cardinal were well acquainted with 
his selt-devotion and intention of risking iiis life in tlie 
service of his people. Fearing the hazards to which 
he would be exposed, they begged him not to run into 
danger, urging that he could make ample provisions 
for the relief of the sufferers by means of others, while 
he himself withdrew to a place of security. But they 
could not shake his resolution ; nothing would induce 
him to abandon his flock — rather would he die with 
them. His confidence in God was so great that he 
felt no doubt whatever that He would take care of him 
in the midst of dangers. In order not to follow his 
own will, he consulted certain persons in authority 
who were not likely to be biassed by human respect^ 
begging them to speak their minds freely, considering 
his duty as Pastor and the distress of his flock. He 
made this appeal more willingly because he had re- 
ceived instructions from Bome, urging that he was 
nnder no obligation, and ought not to imperil his life 
by remaining in the midst of the contagion. 

374 Life of St. Charles Borronteo. 

Tho opinion he asked for coincided with this view, 
but ho was not satisfied with it» though reasons were 
given. He cited the examples of many of the saints 
who had not counted their life dear to them, and 
(\\iotoii the homilies and epistles of Bishops, showing 
that pastors of souls arc bound to stand by their flocks 
in such dangers. They made answer, that these were 
counsels of perfection, not of obligation. His reply 
was characteristic : That in this case he was bound to 
follow such counsels, for the episcopal oflicc is a state 
of porfootion. This they could not gainsay, but praised 
hiti good intentions, and begged him to use all possible 
caution, and at least to keep from contact with infected 
persons. Ho made them this promise, whenever he 
oouUl do so without detriment to his pastoral office, 
though it seemed well nigh impossible, for every time 
that ho was seen in the city the terrified people flocked 
round liini throwing themselves at his feet as their 
common father and imploring his assistance. Not 
satisfied with obtaining his blessing, they strove one 
with another to kiss or touch his garments, as if they 
had no hope of safety but through him. How could 
he find in his heart to thrust from him his beloved 
children in the very hour of their distress? This 
was a matter in which, with all his self-control, he 
could not check the tenderness of his heart. 

Thus confirmed in his purpose of ministering to 
the plague-stricken, with true prudence he, in the 
first place, made the offering of himself entirely to 
God, not knowing when He might think fit to call 
him away. While ordering his spiritual afiairs, ^'* 

His Preparation for Death. 375 

did not overlook temporal matters, but made his 
will/ by which he bequeathed to his relations only 
what the law required, leaving all the rest to the 
Great Hospital of Milan for the poor, reser\'ing only 
a few legacies to other pious foundations and to 
members of his household. Nor did he neglect to 
provide for masses and prayers for his soul ; and 
chose at the same time the most lowly position in 
the cathedral for his tomb. 

Having made every preparation for his end, though 
only eight-and-thirty years of age, he gave himself up 
entirely to his people. By going in person from 
house to house he became acquainted with all infected 
as well as suspected cases. AMierever he turned his 
steps he saw sights of misery — wretched victims 
abandoned to death, without help either for body or 
soul, a spectacle that pierced his heart with grief. 

The worst cases he found in the hospital or pest- 
house of SL Gregory outside the walls, a quadrangular 
building, divided into a number of cells like a mon- 
astery of regulars, enclosing a large open space, with a 
chapel open on all sides for the greater convenience of 
the inmates; the whole surrounded by a moat full 
of water like a fortress, so that it could only be ap- 
proached by the gate. In this place was an immense 
gathering of the plague-stricken, as well as of those 
suspected of infection, all in distress and misery. 
When the officers of the municipality heard of a case 
of suspected plague, they immediately shut the sus- 

1 Sign«d by him on the 9th September, 1576, in Latin and the veroa- 
eular. In it he indicated the daj of his death. •O. 

37^ Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

pected persons up in their houses, or else removed 
them to this hospital, where they were destitute of 
all succour, their bare unfurnished cells being little 
better than prisons. Their misery increased every hour 
by fresh arrivals of fellow-sufferers, among them per- 
haps a father, a mother, or children, whom they saw 
perish before their eyes, without assistance, without 
the sacraments, without being able themselves to 
render them aid of any kind. 

AVhen our saint reached this abode of misery, 
there pierced his ears the cries of sufferers, who 
rushed to the windows, stretcliing out their hands 
to him, with tears and groans begging his com- 
passion. Some mourned the loss of relatives ; others 
shrieked with pain, imploring aid for body and 
soul with a lamentable chorus : " most pitiful 
father, forsake us not; holy Archbishop, great 
Cardinal, have pity upon us ; dear Pastor of our 
souls, help your poor abandoned children ; leave 
us not without giving us your blessing." 

Far less was needed to move the heart of Charles 
with the deepest commiseration. Tears poured from 
his eyes, and all the more abundantly because he 
was not able to relieve their necessities on the spot 
He gave them, however, all he could — words of com- 
fort and promises to spare nothing in order to minister 
to their wants. The sight of his tears and sympathy 
was balm to the hearts of these poor creatures, who 
relied confidently on his promise of assistance. 

( 377 ) 



AVhen Charles had returned home and entered his 
own apai-tments, the remembrance of what he had 
seen seemed to weigh heavily upon him. Leaning 
back against the wall for support, and looking at 
those who had accompanied him, " Have you fully 
realised,'' he said, " the depth of wretchedness of 
these poor people, not plague-stricken alone, but for- 
saken of men, and what is far more deplorable, desti- 
tute of spiritual succour, not a single priest being 
found to take compassion upon them ? It is I who 
am the cause in not having been the first to set the 
example of aiding them. Still, if God does not send 
them help in other ways, I know my duty." In 
these words he plainly showed his intention of serv- 
ing the sick and administering the sacraments with 
his own hands. 

He had already begun to distribute alms, but his 
charity took a still wider range. Not satisfied with 
sending to the hospital a supply of provisions and 
necessaries, he despatched thither a quantity of his 
furniture, including even his bed. He sent, too, all 

378 Life of SL C/utrles Borrofneo. 

the silver plate ^ he possessed to the mint, to be coined 
into money for their relief ; while to provide for the 
ever- increasing calls upon his charity, he directed col- 
lections to be made both in his own diocese, and sent 
into other parts to beg alms. 

To supply their spiritual necessities, as he saw that 
the clergy of the town shrunk from the dangers of 
the plague, he procured a priest and lay assistants 
from the Swiss valleys, men whom custom had ren- 
dered indifTerent to infection, and assigned the hospital 
of St Gregory to their care. Still, this was far from 
beinc» sufticieiit for the dailv increasinix numbers of 
those who were struck down. In this strait he turned 
to the regular clergy, hoping to find them more ready 
for the work of charity, as being more detached from 
the world, and leading a life of greater perfection. 
Nor was he disappointed. He found many willing 
to devote themselves to the work, with the consent 
of their superiors. He urged also upon those living 
in the world the blessedness of giving help, and many 
of both sexes were led to risk their lives for their 
brethren. For their use he wrote a little book, en- 
couraging them to perseverance, and reminding them 
of the eternal rewards promised by God for their 

All the while his own visits and labours were 
unwearied. In the course of them he found it 
necessary to have with him only those who were 

^ All the silver plate he possessed consisted of a water-jag and basin 
and four plates, with spoons and forks to match. He had two pastoral 
staves of silver, one of which was certainly sold at this time, probablj 
both, for we afterwards find mention in his letters of wooden ones. 

His Exertions during the Pestilence. 3 79 

most trustworthy, as they had to converse and some- 
times remain a considerable time among infected 
persons. He gave orders to the rest of his household, 
as well as all others, to keep at a distance, as the 
contagion was spreading more widely every day, owing 
to the neglect of these ordinary precautions. He 
found that his whole household united to put diffi- 
culties in the way ; some, out of care for their own 
health, quitted his service altogether; others, to pre- 
vent him from exposing himself to danger, were 
chary of lending a hand to the work. Seeing the 
trail of the serpent in this, he called all the disaftected 
to him in private, and succeeded iu infusing into 
them his own spirit of sacrifice, so that they offered 
themselves cheerfully to the work. He made special 
rules also for the rest of his household, appointing 
certain prayers and penances, to turn aside the anger 
of God, with stringent precautions against infection. 
For himself, he acted as if he were actually an infected 
person, allowing no one to come near him or wait upon 
him, and having a rod carried before him when he 
went abroad, in order to keep off every one from 
himself and his assistants, who were eight in number. 
In the same way, that all might have access to him 
without risk, he threw open his hall of audience with 
a barrier or grill of lattice- work across it He also 
took the same precautions in the choir of the cathedral, 
for the security of the canons and clergy during the 
celebration of the divine offices which he never 
missed attending at this time.^ 

1 Hi had luiuUj btta praMnt in ohoir on foaai-dayt onlj.- 

580 Life of St. Cliarles Borronteo. 

It was remarkable that during the whole time the 
plague lasted, neither he nor any who accompanied 
lim had so much as a headache, though they were 
continually in attendance on the plague-stricken and 
:hose in their last agony. It was considered as a 
miraculous evidence of the blessing of God upon their 
.abours. Three persons of the Cardinals household 
were carried away by the pestilence, and they were 
lot of his companions, but caught it owing to want 
)f care and neglect of the rules he had laid down. 

The ravages of the disease still continuing, as the 
clergy of the town still shrunk from contact with it, 
C!harles sent to ask the Sovercii^n Pontiff if he could not 
Dblige them to administer the sacraments to the dying. 
He asked Bernardo Carniglia, through whom the petition 
ivas sent, to procure the opinions of certain learned 
Dersons in Eome also, and to obtain for him the fol- 
[owing faculties from his Holiness : viz., to dispense 
regular priests, who were willing to give themselves 
ip to this work, from the obligation of obtaining the 
permission of their superiors; to appropriate to the 
service of the poor certain legacies and endowments 
ntended for other pious uses ; the faculty of absolving 
.n cases reserved to the Holy Apostolic See ; various 
indulgences for the service of the sick ; plenary in- 
iulgences for the dying ; the Papal blessing for 
rosaries and medals ; and several particular indulgences 
for the exercises of devotion with special reference to 
Jie prevailing calamity when so many were daily 
called to their last account. He also asked for the 
privileges of St. Gregorys altar in Eome, for St. 

Application for Spirittial Assistance. 381 

Gregory s chapel in tlie hospital, that the souls of the 
faithful departed might be released from purgatory by 
the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Lnstly, begging for 
these indulgences both for himself and his successor 
in case he should die during the pestilence, he besought 
his Holiness graciously to remember in his prayers 
the miseries of his flock, that God would be pleased 
to take away the plague — the just punishment of their 
sius, and that he would write as a father to his people 
exhorting the sick to patience in their sufferings and 
all cheerfully to help and to profit by this visitation 
sent bv God to further their eternal salvation. As 
the ravages of the pestilence were not confined to 
Milan but threatened other parts, he prayed his Holi- 
ness to call upon the Bishops of those places as good 
shepherds not to forsake their flocks but to offer their 
lives for their people. 

Gregory XIII., while loth to see the life of a 
Prelate whom he so highly valued exposed to risk, 
praised his charity and self-devotion and granted all 
his requests, promising him his prayers and support 
in all his undertakings, begging him to have some re- 
gard for himself and not to run into unnecessary 
danger, reminding him that the welfare of his people 
depended in a great measure upon his life, and that 
his death would be a loss not only to his diocese but 
to the whole ChurcL Soon after the despatch of 
this letter Bernardo Camiglia was called to his reward, 
and the saint's inquiry as to his power of obliging 
his clergy to attend to the plague-stricken remained 

382 Life of St. Charles Borrameo. 

The Holy See graciously granted all the above 
requests and sent a pastoral letter addressed to the 
whole province of Milan, calling upon all to fulfil the 
duty of Christian charity at this time of trial, and 
urging the sick to patience and trust in God. The 
Cardinal printed this letter of the Sovereign Pontiff 
together with an epistle of St. Dionysius of Alexandria, 
in which is described the charity of the Christians of 
his time towards each other under a similar calamity ; 
also two sermons of St. Cyprian, one in time of pes- 
tilence, and another on almsgiving; a discourse of St. 
(Irei^ory Xazianzen on the love we owe to the sick 
and to the poor ; two homilies of St. Gregory of Xyssa 
on the care of the poor, and a letter of St. Augustine to 
Honoratns on the duty of not deserting our neighbour 
in distress. All these he had translated into the 
vernacular, as also the Pope's letter, adding at the 
end an account of the devotion of St. Beruardine of 
Sienna to the victims of the plague. 

His next care was to call toijether all the secular 
clergy of the city, exhorting them earnestly to a self- 
sacriticing love of their neighbour, and not to set too 
high a value upon their own lives in these times of dan- 
ger. He acknowledged that he desired nothing of them 
which he was not ready himself to do, and promised 
that he would himself administer the last sacraments 
to them if any should fall victims to their intrepidity. 
He gave it as his own opinion and that of many 
learned doctors, that they were bound to administer 
the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist at what- 
ever risk. His words did not fail of their effect ^' 

Application for Spiritual A ssistance. 383 

hearers one and all offered themselves joyfully to follow 
in his footsteps, and were filled with so fervent a spirit 
that they not only confessed and communicated but 
also gave extreme unction to the dying during the 

Yet after this it seemed that fear of the contacrion 
and the terrible appearance of the dying robbed many 
of their self-possession when the time came for ap- 
proaching the bed of death. Once more the saint 
sent for those who had so failed, one by one, and 
urged their duty upon them with so much force and, 
where needful, with so wholesome a severity that they 
were not known to be ac^ain wantinij. 

A noble action which occurred at this time is 
worthy of record. The dead bodies carried out from 
the hospital of St Gregory during the night were 
thrown into a public burying-ground adjoining, called 
the Foppone, in order to be ready for interment the 
following morning. On one occasion a poor WTetch, 
not quite dead, had been cast out with the rest amidst 
a heap of putrefying bodies. Early in the morning 
the priest of St Gregory's was passing that way to 
take the Holy Viaticum to some dying persons. At 
the sound of the bell, the poor creature raised himself 
upon his knees amidst the heaps of corpses, and turn- 
ing towards the priest, exclaimed, " my father, for 
the love of God suffer me to receive the Holy Sacra- 
ment once more ! " The priest did not hesitate for a 
moment but hastened to give the poor man the conso- 
lation he so ardently desired. After receiving his 
Saviour he laid himself down again, and a few minutes 

[84 Life of St, C/iarles Borromeo. 

ater he was called away with every reason to hope 
or a favourable judgment from Him with Whom he 
lad united himself on earth. This action edifying in 
he dyiug man for his longing for the Bread of Angels, 
.nd in the priest for liis charity amid so many plague- 
tricken corpses, was told from mouth to mouth and 
hought worthy of record by St. Charles himself in 
ds little book called " A Eemembrance for his Beloved 

Having moved the clergy to do their duty, the 
Cardinal, for his own part, made every provision for 
>rescrving them from fatal consequences as far as it 
ras possible, laying down precautions to be used also 
>y lay-attendants on the sick, in wliich the ofiSce of 
ach and every one was prescribed with minuteness 
nd forethought. They are to be found in the con- 
titutions of the fifth Provincial Council of Milan, 
nd are valuable for future emergencies. 

While the saint was enercjeticallv attendincj to all 
hese matters, the notables and chief men seemed to 
)e thinking only of making good their retreat to their 
states in the country, so that all those who were most 
leeded to carry on the government were found to be 
bsent. The evils produced by this state of things 
7ere increased by the Governor of the city being 
mong the number. Having ascertained the names 
f those who had not yet taken their departure, he 
ent for them and succeeded in banishing their fears 
nd inducing them to remain and help in alleviating 
he general distress. In order to carry on the adminis- 
ration of the city, having obtained the promise 

Application for Spiritual Assistance. 385 

of assistance, he parcelled out the city into districts, 
assigning one to each person who undertook to visit 
and provide for necessitous cases in these parts. That 
everything might be done in order, he recommended 
meetings at regular intervals for consultation on the 
best way of relieving distress, and that one of the 
clergy should be present to give the benefit of his 
experience and advice in spiritual matters. This 
arrangement was found successful, and the im- 
proved condition of the poor greatly comforted the 

New troubles, however, awaited him. There arose 
a dispute between the municipal authorities and the 
officers of the crown as to which of them was bound 
to provide funds for carrying out these recommenda- 
tions. In the meantime, all these good works were 
brought to a stand-still, and the poor plunged again 
into 8u£fering. St Charles witnessed their affliction 
with heartfelt compassion, having already exhausted 
his own means and done his utmost in begging alms. 
There was nothing left he could do but pray fervently 
that God, of His infinite mercy, would vouchsafe to 
send succour to His people in their need that they 
might not perish. At this time the Governor, who 
had taken refuge from the pestilence at Vigevano, 
was obliged to return to Milan on business with the 
Senate. The Cardinal seized the opportunity to ex- 
postulate with him in a spirit of paternal authority 
on his forsaking his post at such a time, and warned 
him of the chastisements he might expect from the 

band of God if by his example he continufid ^ 
VOL. I. "i- ^ 

86 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

Qcourage the nobility in their abandonment of the 
[ty and neglect of the poor and needy. 

Hgr, Antonio Seneca, one of the deputies to whom 
le Cardinal had given the charge of tlie city, was 
le bearer of this letter to the Governor, who very 
romptly turned his attention to the needs of the 
eople, and in conjunction with the Senate made such 
revision for them as amply to satisfy the anxiety of 
le saint on their behalf. 

Pagt 385.— TAf Qovemor, 

A new Governor. Antonio de Guzman, Muniueis of Ajamonte, hftd 
ten lent to Milan, after Luii de Requeiens had gone to Flanders in 
)73, and is the some who is referred to in page 369. 

( 387 ) 



In the meantime, the contagion was rapidly spreading, 
and every hour brought to light new cases of plague 
in the different parts of the city. No care or precau- 
tion seemed of any effect to stay its ravages, and 
every one thought that it would be his turn next. 
Men forsook their ordinary occupations to shut them- 
selves up and avoid all intercourse with their neigh- 
bours. Hence arose a complete stagnation of trade, 
and great distress among those whose subsistence 
depended upon their daily labour. Large numbers 
of servants and domestics were dismissed, and arti- 
sans and labourers were thrown out of employment 
Neither abroad nor at home could they obtain work, 
because Milan was strictly cut off from all intercourse 
with the outside world. In this pass they all betook 
themselves to the Cardinal, as to a common father, 
in full confidence that he could relieve them in their 
destitution. It was a sight to melt a heart of stone 
to behold the troops of these poor creatures marching 
along like an army to throw themselves at the feet of 
their Pastor in their last extremity^ ISA^iftRssc^^^SisiW^si. 

5 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

erfully, like a father distressed at their miserj, 
ding them be of good heart, and promising them 
. Any one unacquainted with his strength of mind 
I fertility of resource might indeed have thought 
t this time he had undertaken more than he could 
form. His own means had long been exhausted ; 
jrwhelmed with debts, what could he do for the 
wds now gathered round him ? 
Seeing that some were strong and capable, he set 
jm as guards in various places where needed, others 
appointed to attend upon the sick, to disinfect their 
thes and the like. The rest, three or four hundred 

number, he lodged for several days in the porch 

St. Stephen in Brolio, afterwards removing them 
more commodious quarters at Vittoria on the road 

Melegnano, eight miles from Milan, in a large 
ilding raised by Francis I. King of France in 
jmory of his victory over the Swiss. In order to 

of real benefit to them he was not satisfied with 
pplying all their bodily wants, but gave them rules 
r keeping order. For the practice of their religion 
1 appointed some Capuchin fathers to administer the 
craments and preach to them, and a judge, with the 
nsent of the authorities, for the correction of offenders, 
id visited them himself, when he was able to do so. 
lough the assemblage was large, and of some of the 
ughest characters of the city, the discipline they 
served was remarkable, and they might indeed have 
jen taken for a religious community. As their 
aintenance required a considerable outlay, and we 
low that he had already gone beyond his own 

Further Measures adopted by St. Charles. 389 

resources, it is evident that God blessed his means by 
multiplying them in his hands. At the same time he 
never neglected any ordinary means in his power, 
and when all funds were exhausted, he sent his poor 
round to the neighbouring towns marching in bands 
with a crucifix carried before them, singing litanies 
to move the faithful to give alms. Thus in one way 
or another they were sufficiently supplied. But as 
winter came on they began to feel severely their want 
of clothinn, and as he could not bear to see them 
suffer, he set himself to devise some way of providing 
suitable garments for them. 

He accordingly put in requisition all the hangings 
and draperies of his palace, and cut them up for this 
purpose, turning out all his stores, and stripping them 
of every article which could possibly be turned to 
account. He went round into every room to see 
that his orders were carried out, and allowed nothing 
to be kept back but a single change of linen for 
himself, and a coarse cloth which he used as a table- 
cover till his death, instead of a rich tapestry, of 
which it had once formed the lining. All these 
stufiGs were made up into articles of clothing and 
cloaks with hoods, to be worn in chapeL Altogether 
it was reckoned that he gave for this purpose eight 
hundred yards of red and seven hundred of purple 
cloth, besides other stuffs and garments of his own 
which he freely added, keeping only what was barely 
necessary for his own use. Before this time he had 
sent to the hospital all clothes that he had left off 
wearing, besides his furs, which were of considerable 

Life of St. Charles Borrameo. 

.ue. Thus he had put the crown to his works of 
TCj by giving away all that he possessed. 
Still even this stock was not sufficient to clothe 
the poor of the city and neighbouring hamlets 

1 of the hospital, so that he had to beg for more, 
e saint took particular pleasure in distributing 
2se gifts with his own hands, in order that he 
ght witness and share the joy of those who received 
3m. In the midst of sadness men smiled when 
3y beheld the array of motley colours we have 
scribed, like regiments of soldiers in different 
iforms. But better than this, it led many rich 
jn of the city to imitate his example, and to be- 
►w the furniture of their palaces in the same way, 
lile their wives cheerfully deprived themselves of 
3ir jewels and ornaments, and put them in the 
nds of the Cardinal, whom they acknowledged as 
3 best administrator of their wealth. 

Though every resource had been made use of to 
tigate the evils of the pestilence, yet as its ravages 
jmed rather to increase than diminish, the saint 
lewed his oft-repeated warning that it was nothing 
IS than a scourge from Heaven, and that their hopes 
ist rest entirely on the divine assistance rather 
m on any human exertions. He reminded them 

what many holy bishops, and particularly St 
•egory the Great, had done in like circumstances; 
w they had collected the people together, and with 
lemn processions and prayers besought Almighty God 

have mercy upon them when they seemed to be 
ven up to destruction. 

His Prayers and Processions. 39 1 

In imitation of this example be directed three 
general processions to be made together with fasting, 
almsgiving, and prayers, during three dajs in the 
week, on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 
begging all to confess and communicate on the 
following Sunday, which happened to be the 7th of 
October, the anniversary of the victory of Lepanto 
over the Turks five years before, and holding out 
a hope of obtaining again the mercy of God. He 
also granted a particular indulgence, repeating his 
exhortations to the people to avail themselves of 
the time of penance offered to them, and by a true 
repentance to call upon God to take pity and remove 
the scourge of His anger. As a necessary precaution 
for avoiding contagion, he directed that the people 
of each parish should walk separately in the pro- 
cession—each parish under its own banner. 

When the city authorities heard of the intended 
processions they did not approve of them, afraid 
lest the concourse of people should add fuel to the 
fire. But St Charles, acting under the guidance of 
the Spirit of God, would not jrield to mere human 
expediency, arguing that the real remedy for their 
evils lay in the very means proposed, quoting the 
example of St Gregory, who had in a similar peril 
held a solemn procession, and Grod had been pleased 
to send His angel to announce that His anger 
had been appeased. In this way he entirely over- 
came their opposition, and these very magistrates 
themselves took part in the procession. On the 3d 
of October, when all the clergy and people were 

392 Life of St. diaries Borromeo. 

assembled in the cathedral, the Cardinal blessed ashes 
with the usual rites, and put them on the heads of 
all, though it was not the season of Lent But he 
did so in order to move the people to greater penance 
and self-abasement, and to make a solemn recognition 
of the submission due to God in their afHiction. The 
blessing of God manifestly attended his labours, for 
the whole congregation was with one accord melted to 
tears of penitence, as if a dew from heaven had soft- 
ened their hearts. The procession then formed and 
went to the church of St. Ambrose the Great, the 
Cardinal himself closing it with a devotion and mien 
so touching tliat no one could look upon him without 
emotion. He wore a purple vestment in token of 
penitence, drawing the hood down to his eyes, his 
train sweeping along the ground instead of being car- 
ried in state. Eound his neck he bore a rope like the 
halter of a condemned criminal ; in his hand he carried 
a crucifix (preserved to this day in the sacristy of the 
cathedral) on which he kept his eyes fixed throughout 
the whole of the way, like a malefactor led forth for 
execution. He considered himself to bear upon his 
shoulders the burden of the sins of his people, and 
ofifered himself in sacrifice to God for them, well 
content to receive the chastisement due to them if 
only they might be spared what yet remained to fill 
up the measure of their retribution. This was in 
imitation of holy King David, who, when the pes- 
tilence was carrying ofif his people at the thrashing- 
floor of Areuna the Jebusite, seeing the destroying 
angel at work, called upon God to wreak His anger 

His Prayers and Processions. 393 

upon him and to pardon the people. The sorrow of 
their beloved Pastor and father excited the same feel- 
ing in the breasts of his people, who, as he passed 
along, made the streets re-echo with cries of " Mercj I 
mercy ! " As the canons and clergy wore a garb of 
penance like his own, the appearance of the city 
was that of a people whose hearts were full of 

At the church of St. Ambrose the Cardinal preached 
on the words of the Prophet Jeremy, Quo viodo sedet 
sola civitas^ " How doth the city sit solitary that was 
full of people ? " ^ and spoke of the sudden calamity 
which had overtaken the prosperous and smiling city, 
the Divine justice awakening their hearts to self- 
knowledge, a spirit of penance and newness of life, 
not sparing their sins, but denouncing them publicly 
as the cause of this scourge from heaven. Not to 
leave them without consolation, he bid them remem- 
ber that the hand of God was upon them also for 
blessing if they bowed themselves under it in patience. 
His earnestness brought tears to the eyes of all his 
hearers, and moved the coldness of their hearts. 
Those who had come wrapt up in the instinct of self- 
preservation, shunning contact with their neighbours, 
now forgot themselves in their eagerness, clustering 
round the pulpit to catch the words which dropped 
from the lips of their inspired pastor. 

This was the first time that he had preached from 
this pulpit in Milan, having previously been used 
to address the people from a seat placed in front of 

^ J«r., Lam. L z. 

,94 I^if^ of St. Charles Borromeo. 

be high altar; but on this occasion, seeing the 
ssemblage which crowded the church, he thought 
e should be better heard, and it was found to be 
lore advantageous for the people, so that he always 
ontinucd using it in future. 

It pleased God, during this procession, to accept 
be oblation of His servant, and to lay upon him 
ome part of the sufiTering for which he had offered 
imself. As he walked along with bare feet, carry- 
3g a large crucifix in his hand, rapt in contemplation 
f the passion of Jesus Christ, his foot caught in an 
roil gmtiug, so that one of his nails was torn off 
3 the quick. He would not, however, stop to apply 
ny remedy, but bore the pain without flinching, and 
he roughness of the road. Every one was moved 
D compassion, but he showed no emotion save that 
f joy, that he was called to sufiFer for his flock. 

On the other days of the procession he appeared, 
till walking barefoot. Though he submitted to have 
he wound bound up on returning home after the 
irocession, he removed the bandage afterwards, nor 
rould he have it replaced till after the procession was 
ver. When the surgeon came to dress it, and shud- 
.ered at the incision he had to make, the saint him- 
elf never showed that he felt any pain. 

On the Friday the procession went to the church 
f St. Laurence, where the Cardinal preached again, 
aking for his text the dream or vision of Nabucho- 
ionosor in the Book of Daniel ^ concerning the tree 
f^hich was shown to him green and flourishing, with 

1 Dan. ir. 7. 

His Prayers and Processions. 395 

the birds of the air sheltering in its branches, but which 
was suddenly cut down and destroyed, leaving nothing 
but a stump behind. He applied this parable to 
Milan and the sudden destruction that had overtaken 
it, striking terror into his hearers at the judgments of 
God, and filling them with compunction for their sins. 
The third procession took place on the next day, 
Saturday, to our Lady's Church by St. Celsus, where 
there is always a great crowd by reason of the many 
graces bestowed here through her intercession. This, 
being the last, was the most solemn day, for St 
Charles had desired that all the convents of regular 
orders, the collegiate chapters, and the heads of the 
parochial clergy should bear the relics preserved in 
their several churches, with lights in their hands, to 
move the people to greater devotion, and to ask the 
suffrages of the saints. On this occasion also he him- 
self carried the whole time of the procession the relic 
of the Holy Nail of the Passion of our Lord,^ taken 
from its shrine in the cathedral and borne on a great 
wooden cross, enclosed in a crystal case. He preached 
on this occasion on the instruments of our Lord's 
Passion, kindling the hearts of the people to love and 
confidence in God's mercy, and the intercession of His 
Holy Mother, the Patroness of the Church, for whom 
the Milanese people cherished a peculiar devotion 
from of old. On their return to the cathedral he 
laid the Holy Nail on the high altar, and began the 
devotion of the forty hours, with a meditation every 
hour on some mystery of the Passion, attended 

^ PUecd bj tht Emprtit St Htltna on the tnppiiigi of hot ^{«l£^v|. 

396 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

throughout the whole time by a multitude of the 

clergy and people taking the watching in turn. The 

contemplation of the sufferings of the Son of God, and 

the exhortations of the preachers to compunction and 

amendment of life, moved the people not only to tears 

of penitence and cries for mercy, but to a goodwill to 

appease the anger of God. At the close of these forty 

hours, the holy Cardinal conducted another procession 

longer and more fatiguing than the others — making 

the round of the city, and carrying as before the Holy 

Nail aloft, his feet bare and the rope round his neck. 

In his desire that every part of the city should enjoy 

the blessing of having this most precious relic carried 

among them, he spared himself no fatigue, but visited 

the six districts in turn fasting, bearing the weight of 

the heavy cross all the day with the wound in his foot 

still open. 

Though the concourse of people was great, it was 
observed that the plague made no progress during 
these days, as might have been expected, and as 
happened in the time of Pope St. Gregory at Eome, 
when eighty persons died of the pestilence during the 
processions. This exemption was recognised as a 
special privilege conferred upon our saint, and thus 
was literally fulfilled his promise to the authorities 
when they interfered with his arrangements about 
the processions. 

Still his zeal was not yet satisfied, and during the 
continuance of the plague he kept both clergy and 
people in supplication before Almighty God, not only 
in Milan itself but throughout the diocese. To this 

His Prayers and Processions. 397 

end, beside the ordinary divine oflSces in the collegiate 
churches, which he required to be celebrated in spite 
of the risk of contagion, he made a point of keeping 
the great feasts in the cathedral with the canons, 
observing all necessary precautions, and directing the 
clergy of the cathedral to go in procession singing 
litanies and psalms on the Monday of each week to 
the church of St. Ambrose, and the rest of the 
collegiate chapters to go in turn to the cathedral on 
the other days, often joining them himself, going 
barefoot even in time of ice and snow. 

On feast-days he appointed the litanies to be sung 
in all the churches before the High Mass, and a cer- 
tain time to be devoted to mental prayer by all the 
people, the points being given out aloud by a priest 
appointed for this duty in each church. The same 
practice was observed throughout the diocese, so that 
the prayers of all his people might have been said to 
ascend to God "without ceasing," as in apostolic 

Further, to encourage the people in these exercises 
and in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, he 
opened the Church's treasure of indulgences accord- 
ing to the faculties given by the Holy See for cer- 
tain prayers and works of charity, granting them to 
physicians, surgeons, and nurses, to those who buried 
the dead, to those who took charge of orphans, and 
for every kind of service rendered in love of our 

He was careful to guard against the assaults of the 
enemy of mankind, and prepared to crush each new 

398 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

fonn of temptation as it arose. One of the most 
dangerous at this time was a superstition which 
spread among the simple and uninstmcted people 
recommending certain charms written and printed on 
cards and engraved also on rings and medals, which 
they thought protected them against infection. These 
were no sooner broudit to the notice of the saint than 
he issued an edict prohibiting their distribution, and 
denouncing them as impostures condemned by holy 
Church, offensive to the majesty of God, and suggested 
by the spirit of falsehood. By this means he saved 
a number of simple souls from falling a prey to the 
snares of Satan. 

•( 399 ) 






The anger of God was not yet appeased, and His 
scourge still hung over the city, notwithstanding the 
prayers and penances of the people and their Pastor. 
From day to day the plague-spot appeared in some 
fresh place, till the whole city might be said to be 
steeped in the disease, and it became necessary to 
devise some new means against its progress. 

It was in this crisis that the unflinching faith of St 
Charles was seen. Though the wrath of God seemed 
unappeased, and His judgments to fall heavier the 
more earnestly the people prayed, his trust never fal- 
tered for an instant. When the pestilence was devour- 
ing his flock he continued steadfast in his faith that God 
would ere long deliver them. Full of this assurance, 
just at the time when the outlook seemed most hope- 
less, he one day in a sermon in the cathedral promised 
them that if they only continued their practice of 
penance and purpose of amendment, the plague would 

)0 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

sappear from among them before Christmas-tide, 
lis prophecy was much discussed at the time> and 
len it was fulfilled by the event it was freely ac* 
owledged that only the Spirit of God could have 
sealed it to him, as all probability, so far from 
siring him out, told directly against him, as new 
jes of contagion were published daily. 
As his confidence was invincible, so also was it 
ogether free from presumption, and he was not 
:erred from continuing his prayers by his foreknow- 
Ige of returning liealtb, or discouraged at the 
iment by their seeming fruitlessness. He was 
rays urging the people to increase the fervour of 
jir prayers, and was ever giving them fresh oppor- 
lities of enkindling their devotion. Though all 
tt men receive through the intercessions of the 
nts is from the hand of God, yet he knew well it 
His good pleasure to work by means of instruments, 
i that the genius and intellect of man is given to 
ve Him in difficulties and trials. 
When every eflbrt seemed to have failed, he recom- 
nded them to make a particular application to the 
rious martyr St. Sebastian, who was held in special 
lour by the Milanese as a native of their city. His 
arcession had before this time put an end to the 
ages of pestilence in the pontificate of St. Adeo- 
is, A.D. 672, when Eome was desolated by this 
ible scourge, and the dead lay in heaps in the 
)lic ways, and nothing stayed its virulence till an 
tr was erected to St. Sebastian in the church of St 
er ad vincula. Following this example, St. Charles 

Tlu Plague. 40 1 

encouraged the Milanese to make a solemn promise to 
restore the rained church of the saint, to provide for 
the celebration of a daily mass there in perpetuity, to 
keep his feast with due honour, and the vigil as a 
fast, to make a solemn procession on the anniver- 
sary of this day, viz., October 1 5, for ten successive 
years, and every year on his feast day. In making 
this vow we see that St Charles had two objects 
chiefly in view : to increase the veneration paid to the 
saint, and to keep up in the minds of the people the 
remembrance of their deliverance, as an incentive to 
watchfulness against those sins which had provoked 
the infliction. 

The worst was not yet, however, over. The hos- 
pital of St Gregory was filled to overflowing, and 
numbers daily applied for admission. In union with 
the municipality, St. Charles decided upon adopting 
two important sanitary measures. The first was to 
construct temporary hospitals for the sick in the 
country, at some distance from the city, six in num- 
ber, corresponding to the six districts, defended by 
ditches and walls, so as to prevent communication 
between the sick and the soimd ; the other was the 
establishment of quarantine within the city, in order 
to restrict all intercourse leading to the spread of 

The condition of the city at this time was so 
wretched that it recalled the Lamentations of Jeremias 
over JerusaleuL St Charles himself thus describes it : 
" The city might at this time be likened to that great 
tree which was shown to Nabuchodonosor in a dream, 

VOL. L "i. ^ 

402 Life of St. C/iarles Borromeo. 

reaching to heaven, and spreading out its branches to 
the ends of the eartL city of Milan, so wast thou 
in the days of thy greatness exalted to heaven, and 
thy riches penetrated unto the utmost parts of the 
world, ilen and beasts and fowls of the air were 
nourished bv thine abundance. Peasants came from 
afar to labour under thy shade, and nobles delighted 
to take up their abode in thy palaces. But now how 
is thy wantonness and pride suddenly cast down, so 
that thou art become a by-word in the mouths of men ! 
Thou art shut up within thy walls ; tliy wares and 
thy incrchaiuliso arc cut oCf. Xoue conic any more to 
dwell with tlioe, to enjoy thy fruits, aud to tralfic in 
thv markets, nor even to adorn themselves with thv 
inventions, nor to learn of thee new fashions of vanity, 
but thou art sliunned alike by gentle and simple, and 
canst tempt no one by thy pleasures or riches to meet 
the poison of thy breath. How great is the misery of 
those who must perforce dwell with thee ! If they 
escape the ravages of the pestilence, few there are who 
are not numbered among the suspected and banished 
to the discomforts of the hospital, or, what is worse, 
obliged to crave a shelter in the huts without the 
walls, where they are lucky if they find straw to lie 
upon, the greater number having to sleep under the 
dew of heaven, in the haunts of beasts, where soldiers 
hem them in, lest they should carry the plague-spot 
elsewhere. What more need be said ? Thy streets 
and public places are deserted, thy churches are 
empty, thy markets closed, thy houses left desolate. 
Milan ! famished and hard-pressed, begging aid 

The Plague, 403 

from villages and hamlets around that once depended 
upon thee, how art thou humbled and brought low by 
the sudden shaft from the hand of God ! " 

From these words of the saint we mav inither how 
great was the distress in which this once-thriving city 
found itself ; we have it on his authority that there 
were as many as sixty or seventy thousand poor, who, 
being thrown out of employment by the stagnation of 
trade, and failure of the ordinary channels of labour, 
were dependent upon the alms of the charitable for 
their daily bread. This was of course a heavy drain 
on the public purse, and the controllers of the city 
found themselves obliged to borrow money on the 
security of the tolls and customs. 

Throughout this extremity the saint continued his 
almsgiving without reserve, though forced to embarrass 
his income for many years in advance, and was con- 
stantly reduced to such straits that his steward had 
often to go, now to one, now to another, to beg means 
for the day's expenses, as if he had himself been one 
of the poorest. 

And though often hard beset, he was never aban- 
doned by the Providence of God in whom he implicitly 
trusted, and who often aided him miraculously in times 
of greatest need. This was manifested particularly on 
one occasion. He had been busy the whole day pro- 
viding for the necessities of the destitute. On retum- 
ini; home in the evening he found there was nothin<; 
in the larder for his own household, and no means of 
obtaining any provisions, everything having been dis- 
tributed among the poor. The saint withdrew without 

4 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

7ord to his own apartment, in all probability to praj, 
ile his chamberlains and assistants in the labours of 
s trying period stood around with arms crossed, sup- 
rless, yet never doubting that God would provide for 
sm. Just at this moment a person of consideration 
ocked at the door, accompanied by a porter carrying 
)ag of a thousand crowns, and requested an audience 
the Cardinal, at whose feet he laid the money as an 
3ring. This gave great consolation to the household, 
beincj a wonderful instance of the care of God for 
im. These favours from heaven caused the saint to 
jrcise greater charity still towards those in distress, 
i to urge those who had means at command to do 
3 same. In many instances his exhortations had the 
3t results, the wealthy often despoiling themselves 
their most valuable effects that tbey might have 
)re to give away. Among the most benevolent was 
mponio Cusano and his brother Agostino.^ 
The number of the needy continued, however, to 
irease in the long season of distress, and Milan, no 
iger able to provide for their necessities, was forced 
have recourse to the neighbouring cities and towns 
• aid. Many of them responded with alacrity to this 
peal: the store of provisions contributed by the 
ople of Casal Maggiore gave most seasonable suc- 
iir, and was particularly worthy of remembrance as 
mark both of generosity and loyalty. 
While the Cardinal busied himself in behalf of the 
ffering members of his flock, his charity was seen 
)st especially in his solicitude for the poor little ones 

* Afterwards made Cardinal bv Sixtus V. 

The Plague. 


who lost their mothers in the plague. When it was 
impossible to find foster-mothers for them all, he had 
them supplied with goats' milk. These little nurslings 
were his especial charge, and he took particular pleasure 
in rescuing them wherever he came across them, for 
sometimes when going round the city by night he 
descried them on door-steps, sometimes lying by the 
side of the dead bodies of their parents ; but wherever 
they might be, they always received at his hands the 
care and tenderness of a father. 

Pofjt 401.—** The city mvjht at (kit time be iih-ned.'* 

This ii An extract from the Memoriale al tuo diletto popoio. Part I. 
chftp. 1, priuted in the Acts of the Charch of Milan, Part VII. 

( 4o6 ) 




spiritual care of his Hock in this time of pestilence 
;liecl particularly on the mind of the saint; for 
e he did not neglect their bodies, his principal 
itude was for the salvation of their souls. In his 
f visits to the sick in the hospital or in the huts 
)nd the walls, his first inquiry was as to their 
tual welfare, in order to provide them with 
y assistance and consolation. The first priest 
m he had placed at the hospital had fallen a 
m to his own want of caution, so he procured 
her in his place from Switzerland. He then ap- 
ted a Capuchin father, Paul Belintano, over the 
)lishment, to keep order and correct ofienders. 

father did good service in keeping all the officials 
le regular performance of their duties. When the 

beyond the walls were erected he had to find 
ts to attend to the administration of the sacra- 
is there, as the parochial clergy were now confined 
le city by the rules of quarantine. In this 
gency he had recourse to the Eegular orders, 

spiritual Care of his Flock during Plague. 407 

having received a faculty from Home to dispense with 
the consent of their superiors in case of refusal He 
sent accordingly for certain fathers who were noted as 
good confessors, and begged them to undertake the 
care of the sick in the following address, taken in 
substance from the life of St. Charles by Monsignor 
Bascap^, Bishop of Novara. 

" Hcvercnd Fathers, 

" I have no need to describe to you the miserable 
state of this city, since it is open to the eyes of all, 
nor to rouse you to compassion, for no one can be so 
hard-hearted as not to feel for the afflicted. Yet this 
I will say, that it is no ordinary calamity which we 
have now to endure. We see men in the hour of their 
need deprived of the presence and support of those 
nearest and dearest to them. We see them torn from 
their abodes and dragged to a place of suffering, which 
is more like a stable than a hospital, and this with 
little or no hope of again beholding their relatives or 
homes. This would be grievous indeed even if it only 
concerned the frail bodies which must one day perish, 
though there would then be this consolation, that they 
would soon be rewarded for their pains by an eternity 
of joy. But here it is worse than this : it is not their 
bodies alone which are in danger of perishing, it is 
their souls, for which I plead. Though reduced to a 
condition so desperate, they have none to minister to 
their needs in spiritual things. Shall we not be 
heartless indeed if we stand by and stretch out no 
hands to help ? Shall we see our brethren and fellow- 

toS Life of St. C/iarles Borromeo. 

itizcns, our friends and relatives, not only deprived 
if comforts in their sufferings, not only tortured with 
>ain and the apprehension of a terrible death: but 
hall we stand idly by and see them without any of 
he consolations of religion, wliile they call on us with 
ears to take pity on them, while their very looks tell 
is, when they have lost their voices, that their days 
.ro without help and their end almost without hope ? 
51iall tliese things take place before our eyes, and we 
[ive no relief? reverend fathers, liere is your 
opportunity to prove your title to the name of religious, 

effect all your good desires and resolutions, to serve 
Jod by acts of heroic perfection. This is the time to 
how forth the excellence of your institute, that you 
ire striving to be saints and to lead perfect lives, for 
t is chiefly by works of piety and mercy that perfec- 
ion is to be shown. turn not your backs upon 
XL occasion of serving God in a way so charitable and 
;o necessary, reject not the prayers of these wretched 
luppliants. It is a work that falls more clearly to 
^our share, for the city clergy have their hands full in 

1 season of such distress. We know that they are faith - 
ul in performing their ordinary duties, and that they 
lould not suffice for more than this even if they were 
n greater numbers than they are. But besides this, 
f they were to mingle with the plague-stricken, they 
v'ould be shunned as bearers of contagion among their 
iwn people, so that we should have to provide other 
lergy for parochial duties. We have exerted ourselves 
procure the services of priests from the country, 
.nd some have offered themselves, but they do not 

spiritual Care of his Flock during Plague. 409 

suffice for all that is required of them, and there are 
numbers of patients in the huts beyond the walls 
who are altogether without the ministrations of the 
Church, because we have no priests to send to them. 

" It is to you then we look in this emergency, to 
you who, living in a state of perfection, are obliged by 
your profession to make no account of temporal con- 
siderations, but to despise them, whenever you may 
thereby serve God more perfectly. To you we look, 
who ought to be ready to lay down your lives for the 
love of God and your neighbour, especially when it 
is a question of saving souls. For it was thus that 
the Son of God died for us, and thus uianv saints 
have done, whose example you as good religious are 
bound to follow. 

'' But you will say, perhaps, that in the case of the 
sick, whose cause we are pleading, your good offices 
are not so essential, seeing they may be saved without 
you. We do not now dispute the point, nor will we 
consider the matter on a ground so low. The holy 
law of the Gospel, and the example of the saints, teach 
us to exercise generosity. The saints knew no law 
but that of charity, and never shrunk from devoting 
themselves to such works as this which we now 
propose to you. Jesus Christ our Lord in His own 
person bears out the lesson. Though the Son of God, 
He gave Himself of His own will to a death of shame 
upon the cross, for friends and for enemies. 

" It is He who invites you to take part in the work. 
Though we have spoken of the duty of not counting 
our lives dear to us in His cause, we do not wish you 


410 Life of St. Cliarles Borromeo. 

to understand that there is of necessity danger to 
health or life. By God's grace it is far otherwise, 
and with ordinary caution and attention to roles, risk 
may be avoided, as is done by those priests who have 
hitherto laboured here. But this we say, that if it 
should please Almighty God that any of us should 
catch the infection and die, that it would be a glorious 
end, rather deserving the name of life, for dying thus 
in the service of God and of our neighbours, it is most 
certain that we should attain to life eternal — that life 
which the saints and martyrs have made the end and 
aim of their labours upon earth. 

" Moreover, it is an opportunity of showing our 
gratitude to God, and laying up a treasure of merit 
for ourselves, making a generous return for the love 
which the Son of God has lavished upon us, oflfering 
up our lives in His service and in that of His plague- 
stricken brethren, even as He laid down His life for 
us on the cross, nay, even as He gives it to us His 
priests every day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

•* Who is there among you whose heart is so cold as 
not to respond to the call of our dear Lord, to whom 
we are so bound? Who can refrain from offering 
himself, his health and life, and all that he has, in 
sacrifice to Him ? Shall we suffer ourselves to be 
overcome by the fear of death ? In any case we must 
die ere long. What security have we, again, that if we 
abandon our duty in keeping out of the reach of pes- 
tilence, that the just judgment of God will not over- 
take us, and thus punish our inordinate affection for 
our perishing bodies ? Believe me, reverend fathers, 

spiritual Care of his Flock during Plague. 4 1 1 

it is an easy thing to fall a victim to this common 
visitation. We have innumerable examples before us of 
those who have hedged themselves round with every 
possible precaution, but have nevertheless perished. 
For it is a scourge sent by God for the chastisement 
of our sins, and who shall deliver us from the hand of 
His power when it is His will to search us out ? 

" Far better for us, therefore, would it be to abandon 
ourselves to God by entering upon this holy work for 
love of Him, and in satisfaction for our sins — thus, 
so to speak, restraining His arm, and calling upon 
His mercy. 

" Dear fathers, what shall I say more ? Shall I 
reproach you with the example of laymen, who, for a 
little temporal gain, expose themselves to far greater 
danger in their attendance than is required of us — 
touching them, handling them, and waiting upon them 
in every way ? But I will go further, and say there are 
many of them who do this, not for fee or reward, but 
from pure love of God. This we know of ourselves, 
for many have placed their services freely at our disposal 
And shall we do less. His priests, who are the recipients 
of His special favours, who make profession of lead- 
ing a spiritual and perfect life ? Shall we suffer our- 
selves to be outstript by people in the world ? shall 
not the love of God have greater weight with us than 
mere interest and gain has with them ? Have we not 
indeed our own true interest at heart ? Is not the 
reward of glory which God will render us in His 
eternal kingdom more to us than perishing gain is to 
them ? Think of these things, beloved brethren and 

412 Life of SL C/iarles Borromeo, 

fathers, and show not yourselves to be so weak and 
taint-hearted that laymen shall rise up in judgment 
stgainst you and condemn you. 

"If any of you are withheld from ofiTering your- 
jelves by reason of not having the permission of your 
juperiors, though we will not believe that the charity 
Df any superior is so weak that he would not wish to 
second your good desires, know that the Sovereign 
Pontiff hereby releases you from all obligation of 
)bedience on this occasion: and we have received 
imple faculties from His Holiness to authorise you to 
;ome even against the express will of your superiors. 
Let not this therefore distress vou. Far from incur- 
•ing any guilt of disobedience, you will be doing what 
s most pleasing to His Holiness, to which he himself 
jxhorts and invites you. 

" I call upon you one and all therefore to devote 
jTOurselves generously to this work worthy of your 
ligh calling, and to make your service a special obla- 
ion to Almighty God, who has vouchsafed to charge 
BEimself with the reward of all you do for Him 
Moreover, I ask it of you as a favour personal to 
nyself, of which I shall never be unmindful For I 
Lssure you, you will hereby relieve me of a burden 
vhich oppresses me beyond measure, and I shall be 
freatly rejoiced when I see you occupied in saving 
hese souls committed to my charge, and so dear to 
ne, that I may say I bear them graven on my heart 
iTou may imagine the grief and anguish I feel to see 
hem in danger of perishing eternally for want of 
piritual assistance. I do not doubt, however, that 

spiritual Care of his Flock during Plague. 4 1 3 

you will readily offer yourselves that I may send you 
out to them, or that the example of the first-comers 
will inspire many others to do likewise. When the 
work is once begun, God, I know, will move many 
hearts to carry it on. But as the risk of those who 
are first to offer themselves is greater, let them rest 
assured that their reward shall be higher. Fear not, 
my brethren, ever to be forsaken under any circum- 
stances that may arise ; I myself will keep my eye 
upon you, and will never forsake you. If it should 
please God that any of you fall a prey to the disease, 
and there should be none to serve you, I will attend 
you myself and have every care for your souls. For 
my own part, you are my witnesses, that from this 
hour I devote myself to minister to you in holy things. 
I am firmly resolved that no weariness, no fatigue, no 
peril, shall make me quail from fulfilling my pastoral 
office, or from doing everything in my power for the 
souls which God has committed to my keeping/' 

Such was the substance of the address delivered by 
our blessed Pastor on this occasion, but it was spoken 
with so great imction and earnestness that every one 
of the fathers who heard it was moved with a great 
desire to do his bidding. Twenty-eight offered them- 
selves on the spot, to the great joy of the saint, who 
accepted their services with gratitude, and immediately 
appointed their work to each. From day to day their 
numbers increased, the Capuchin fathers being among 
the foremost to come forward, and from that time 
there was never any lack of priests during the con- 

414 Z^ of St. Cliarles Borromeo. 

tinuance of the plague. St Charles provided them all 
with lodging and maintenance in his palace, where 
they all dined together in the common refectory, 
though not without observing the usual precautions. 
The proportion of those who were carried off by the 
plague was not large, viz., two Jesuits, two Bamabites, 
and two Capuchins, God being pleased to accept the 
offering of themselves they had so generously made. 
They may be compared to those priests who ministered 
to the plague-stricken of Home in the time of the 
Emperor Valerian, of whom the Roman Slartyrology 
thus speaks under the date Feb. 28: "At Eome 
the coniniemoratioii of many holy priests, deacous, and 
others, who in the time of the Emperor Valerian, 
during tiie ravages of the plague, willingly went to 
their death in ministerinsj to the sick, and have alwavs 
been venerated as martyrs by the faithful." 

We may gather in this way some idea of the work 
which God was pleased to accomplish by means of 
His servant. We see him with a few words not only 
moving so many to expose themselves to the peril of 
their lives, without hope or thought of reward in this 
world, but inspiring them with a strength and a con- 
fidence, in which they were- ready to undertake what- 
ever labours the saint appointed them. This was the 
source of untold blessings, for St Charles was now 
enabled to provide the sick with aid and consolation, 
and the departed with solenm rites and the offering 
of the Holy Sacrifice for their repose. Thus, the last 
hours of the agonising were soothed, and greater 
numbers were able to enjoy the last blessing of the 

spiritual ( lare of his Flock during Plague. 4 1 5 

saint and the plenary indulgence at the hour of death. 
A stricter watch was kept over clothes and things 
which might carry infection, as well as over persons 
appointed to disinfect them, so as to prevent thefts 
and the purloinment of valuables which the deceased 
might have about them. These priests likewise gave 
good example and encouragement to the parochial 
clergy by fearlessly living among the sick of whom 
they had the charge, in order to be on the spot to 
render them assistance at any hour of the day or 

Still kindled by his compassion for the sufTering 
people, the saint continued to turn to account Iiis 
powers of persuasion in procuring the help of the laity. 
"When spiritual needs were so far provided for, he 
renewed his efiforts for the relief of their bodies, by 
inducing both men and women to ser\'e without pay- 
ment for the love of God. For this purpose, as he 
went his rounds of the city, he would stop when he 
came to any elevated place, where he could be well 
heard, and addressing the people who were sure to 
run in crowds to hear him, exhort them to come 
generously to his aid for the love of our Lord Jesus 
Christ When he had finished, there would come a 
number of persons, like so many soldiers of the cross, 
to have their names enrolled in a book which he 
kept for the purpose. After this he gave them his 
blessing, and showed them what they would have to 
do, investing them with his own hand with a habit 
of sackcloth, as a badge of the work they had under- 
taken. He then dismissed them with words of 

J. 1 6 Life of St. C liar Us Borromeo. 

encouragement, which filled them with so much 
fervour, that they never shrunk from the lowest 
offices of attendance upon the sick, or from exposing 
themselves to every risk. God was pleased in many 
instances to accept the sacrifice they made of them- 
selves, and to give them eternal life in exchange for 
:his temporal existence. To the sick their services 
were of the greatest benefit, for as they were imder- 
taken from motives of pure charity, so they were 
performed in a spirit of cheerfulness and generosity 
i^ery different from that of a hireling. 

This brings to my mind a touching episode of the 
:imes, in which the spirit of self-devotion was brought 
)ut in a striking way. The pestilence had seized upon 
I house opposite the Archbishop's palace, from the 
;vindows of which was seen a melancholy sight. Three 
children lay in one bed stricken with the plague. 
Two boys were already dead, but the third, a girl about 
:en years of age, was still alive, but likely soon to 
:ollow them. The poor mother was there alone, for 
jvery one else had fled from the house, but so great 
vas her fear of the malady that she dared not ap- 
proach to give any help, even though she saw two die 
)efore her eyes and the third almost at her last gasp. 
Cheir sad condition was brought to the knowledge of 
he Cardinal, who, when he had satisfied himself of 
he fact, felt great compassion for the poor child, and 
lent for an Ursuline nun who had previously put 
lerself at his disposal, and gave her the charge of the 
ittle sufferer. The sister, having removed the two 
lead bodies, applied such remedies to the survivor 

spiritual Care of his Flock during Plague. 4 1 7 

as the case required, so that the child shortly revived. 
The next day, however, she had a relapse, and while 
the nun was disposing her for death she expressed an 
earnest wish to receive the CardinaVs blessing. She 
was accordingly carried to the window, and a mes- 
senger was sent with the child's request. Tlie Car- 
dinal was at the moment in the refectorv, but im- 
mediately rose to give her his blessing from the 
window. After this the disorder took a fresli turn, 
and after being taken to the hospital the child was 
within a few days restored to health, but the nun in 
her stead was seized by the contagion, and rendered 
up her soul to God. 

VOL. I. 

2 D 

( 418 ) 




•HEAT was the satisfaction the saint derived from the 
jsults i)f. his hibours, for he now saw the sick pro- 
ided with every consolation they could have had in 
leir own homes. Both he himself and all his priests, 
y a special privilege from the Apostolic See, were 
tiabled also to grant the plenary indulgence at the 
our of death. 

There was another part of his flock which now 
egan to claim his care. It did not escape him that 
de forty days of quarantine, if given up to idleness, 
fforded many temptations to sin ; he therefore was 
eedful to provide that this time should be spent 
D as to promote the glory of God and the salvation 
f their souls. In the first place, he required the 
lergy to make it a time of penance and fasting, as 
liey were just now entering on the season of Advent ; 
nd urged on the laity the duty of confession and com- 
lunion before beginning it. Xext, in order to sanctify 

Ministrations to those in Quarantine. 419 

the time, he directed that every one should hear Mass 
devoutly every day ; and to give efifect to this order, 
he erected altars at the crossways and conspicuous 
places, where Mass was said daily, so that all could 
assist from their windows. In the same way he 
arranged for confessions to be heard, sending priests 
round at stated times from house to house, the con- 
fessor sitting on the doorstep outside, and the peni- 
tent kneeling within, the door serving as a barrier. 
The parish priest went round with the Blessed Sacra- 
ment on Sundays, and gave holy communion on the 
doorsteps to all, as if tliey had been cloistered religious. 
He also made arrani:;ements that each district should 
keep seven times of prayer throughout the day and 
night, singing psalms and hymns in two choirs, after 
the manner of a chapter of canons, and saying suitable 
prayers, each hour being announced by ringing the great 
bell of the cathedral. When it sounded, all the inhabi- 
tants attended at their windows, a priest or other person 
appointed began the prayers, and all the people on 
their knees made the responses, each having the book 
of prayers which the Cardinal had printed for the 
purpose. It was a sight to see, when all the in- 
habitants of this populous city, numbering little 
short of three hundred thousand souls, united to 
praise God at one and the same time, sending up 
together an harmonious voice of supplication for 
deliverance from their distress. 

Milan might at this time have been not unfitly 
compared to a cloister of religious of both s^xes 
serving Grod in the inclosure of their cells, an image 



° I I 

^ 7 'f #?/ A/. CharUi £vrrTmtCL 

tin -^ m I 111 111 • •< ^ 

"'"*''' p'lii m.lMl.:.M. i'> Iff 1 ^^»^.. v.-m inuciafe--^ 

•'" ■ '. » I . ■ mil |.|.iM.| {,,( till; >:',i: 

** '»" I" »«^- iliii' mil ii( in i.M.*:^~ r" "T^T ^rr* . 
I •^ ' '' " ' ''" '^' Hii. fii.i! ir, M;: ;;:; truxmiii .i 

I MM imiImi .,, 1,, t.llni..- 1,1:^ i.wii i/l..];-V».".C* Lt; lit? 

J , . I I 1 1 . i . 1 1 . . ; , , ( , ; I I ». • » ^ i ' I \ . ; :, j V t iixv^ •: ;■* 
. »••' '" '" '•■ '• 1-.I i1m ]i--^|'i:.iI. t;.4- ;■ -. ;. r w\\\x* 

I .11 ' ' ■■ " ' »...». Ml,, t" » |l III i.i; i,r;j 1: M'vi. 

. 1 1 1 • • ' " ' J 1 1 » t , I i t I « I • 1 f • I « .« I 1 1 J i ;i V '..f •. ;. -s T ff*:;- 
tt " ' ' * «««»iiii» 111 nil III] \\u \k\\\\ \\i < * t\\t\\j:U^\, " ! * - 

.Un» '•' " *' " "•■ •■''•'» 1«n HI p|«;V«r;i o*:l'X£ L.I 

,.,.1., I'l til. . i.M Mni Mil- I'vt'ry oii*^ "WLi itT'i 

,jj (. I.- M . , I. .^^^.\ ),, ' •iMtinMiil I «? J'"Aif flC*; tDCvuTs^Tt^i 

.,tt » J . I . ». 11 \i iIm> .'I nil- (Mill', it \v;i.s a c.i:s:1a- 
w »i i. l.iM» ill «ti.. Miiii't III \w\ (mil !.i) :»«'!• liis Jj'iOZ..i 
(it ii..iip«;Jiin 1.1 MiiMil ni-iiMUfr tinil mill lalx^urinir tv 
o.Mi ill. '» ■■' «»!.. ill It (iihK i»i |iii|ili>\ity und distress, 
h) iUi.< t«i« ittt • (mm III ntLniitMl MM iniiiifjiliate know- 
li..l.,i' "' *'•• lit . .I.« ••! Ilia (liul. , ini III ||ii passed along 

(In: ;.(trti-> lltx.M. \\\u\ Wfio rii|||il|iM| to tlioir hoUS^ 

\i) [Ui. i|i(>iiii<iiiiiii \u>iii Qiiii* (i) run in the windows 
idiil til ^: idu tikafiih:; nil iIikii LiiiMt-i. TIius cveiy one 
liuil ail ii|>ititiiitiiii s 111 iimKiiiir Kiitiwn to him, as to 
tliuir rniuiiiiiii flit hc'i, nil tiirir iiifMl.t; fur their con- 
fidcucc 111 iiiiii WU.1 MO ^^riMit, thai many laid open to 

Ministrations to those in Quarantine. 42 1 

him their sonx)ws, which they had no mind to publish 
to the committee appointed to provide for temporal 
distress. And this was the case with the respectable 
classes also. In order that he might not forget any 
of these numerous appeals, he carried a book with 
him, in which he noted down their tale, and always 
left them encourai^ed and consoled. Beside the rei^u- 
lar rations which he distributed to the necessitous, he 
was always accompanied on his rounds by two priests^ 
on horseback, carrying a store of articles for the sick, 
which lie would distribute among the poor with his 
own hands, as well as alms where he saw there was 
need ; and he would take the opportunity of inquiring 
whether his orders had been carried out, so that his 
little book was no bare collection of facts, but was 
the means of the removal or alleviation of distress. 
Nor did his charity stop here. He was always ready 
to enter the infected houses to go to the bedsides of 
those in their last agony, in order to dispose them to 
die in the love of God. We have seen him groping 
his way in through a window, or climbing a ladder, 
to enter when the door was closed ; for he would 
rather have suffered any inconvenience than that 
one soul should be left without aid, and its salvation 

Time would fail us to tell of his many charities, or 
of the cures following upon his blessing, which may 
be read in the processes of his canonisation. It 
may be sufficient here to speak of the general estima- 

1 Among these were OtUrio Abbiato Forrero and Oriffith Roberts. 
CMions of the Cathedral, and Ladorico Moneta, one of the ehaplaint of 
the household. 

42 2 Life of SL C liar Us Borronteo. 

tion in which he was held by all the people, who 
looked upon him as an angel of God, rejoicing when- 
ever they saw him, as if he came to open heaven to 
them. His zeal, moreover, seemed to overflow npon 
all the priests who served under him, and made them 
emulate his fervour and self-devotion in administering 
the last sacraments to the sick, who at that time were 
passing to a better life. But while his solicitude for 
all his flock was great, he spent himself with all his 
heart upon those priests and others who at his wish 
liad given themselves up to the service of the plague- 
stricken ; always holding it to be his especial charge 
to sec that they wauted for notliing, and himself to 
administer to them the last consolations. 

Pagt ^i\.^Gr\^ih Roberts^ note. 

Griffidio Roberti, a native of Wales, was Canon Theolgian of the Chapter, 
and one of the confessors in ordinary of St. Charles. Book VIII. chap, 
xziii. 01trocchi*8 note here describes him as one of the saint's almoners 
at this time of the plague. In a memorandum drawn up in 1588, pro* 
bably by Count de Olivares and Cardinal Allen, he is recommended for 
one of the Welsh bishoprics. See Records of English Catholics (London : 
Nutt), Tol. ii. p. cvii.. Introduction. 

( 423 ) 





In pursuance of his resolution to fulfil all the oflices 
of a good shepherd to his flock, St. Charles thought 
himself bound to give the sacrament of confirmation 
to those who were as yet unconfirmed and in danger 
of death. For though not a sacrament absolutelv 
necessary to salvation, he could not let any die with- 
out having this grace. He gave notice, therefore, to 
all those who were unconfirmed, to prepare themselves 
for receiving it devoutly. He then went through the 
streets in his pontificals and anointed the candidates 
with the holy chrism from door to door, with all 
solemnity possible under the circumstances. Out of 
reverence to the sacrament, it had not been customary 
to admit children under nine years of age to it, but 
although the Cardinal had made it his practice to 
confirm every Pentecost in different churches, still 
several thousand persons presented themselves to 
receive it on this occasion. Among them it is thought 
most have been many who were already sick of the 

^24 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

When he went on the visitation of his diocese, of 
rhich we give an account in the next chapter, he con- 
Inued in his purpose of not suffering the plague- 
tricken to die without confirmation, and administered 
; first in the town of Sesto on the road to Monza, 
.here the pestilence had made great havoc. While he 
ras so engaged, a great number of the infected testified 
lieir desire for the sacrament. The saint turned to 
ather Ludovico iloneta, and asked his opinion of what 
e ought to do in the case. The good priest would not 
ive any counsel but, that if the Cardinal thought fit 
3 grant their request, he would gladly assist "Wliile 
lie saint stood in doubt, a number of the ix)or creatures, 
loved by an extraordinary desire for the holy chrism, 
i\\ to<^ether at his feet. The attendants frijihtened at 
lie risk, cried out to them not to come too near. But 
rhen St. Charles perceived the strength of their desire, 
e would not send them away, saying, " It is the 
rill of God ; let them come for their consolation." 
ifter confirming all who presented themselves, he 
erceived a number of people lingering at some 
istance, who durst not approach. Inquiring why 
[ley did not come, he was told that they considered 
leir cases too bad and the danger too great. " Shall 
re then," said he, " let them die without the sacra- 
lent ? Nay, let them come also." After this he never 
esitated any more, but confirmed all who desired it, 
ow great soever the danger might be, and he was 
ften called upon to confer the sacrament even in 
le houses of the dead, not unfrequently upon the 
ying, and on one occasion, at Trezzo, a man fell 

Administers Sacrame^its to Plagtic-slricken, 425 

dead at his feet the moment after he had received the 

In his visits to the sick he found himself called 
upon at times to administer the sacrament of baptism 
also. For there were many cases of chilchren bom in 
the temporary huts, whither the mothers had been 
removed on the plague-spot appearing, and as they 
were in danger of death, he baptised them and then 
sent them out to nurse. One case of a little negro girl, 
whom he met with in this way, was very remarkable 
on account of a miracle which he afterwards worked 
upon her. 

He frequently had the consolation of fulfilling the 
promise he had made of giving the last sacraments to 
the parochial clergy and some of the other priests who 
had devoted themselves to the care of the sick. This 
was the case with the parish priest of San Bafiaele, in 
Milan. It was reported to the Cardinal that he had 
caught the infection, and he immediately presented 
himself at his bedside, and perceiving his case to be 
desperate, bade him prepare himself for receiving the 
last rites, which he would administer himself, assuring 
him that he would not lose sight of him as long as he 
was alive. The following day he returned to give him 
Holy Communion and Extreme Unction, and with this 
intention said Mass that morning in the church of San 
Eafifaele, and gave Communion to the priest's acolyte, 
who died of the plague. He then changed his vest- 
ments in order to administer the sacraments to the 
sick priest in his own room. His attendants, among 
them Monsignor Seneca and Bernardino Tarugi, were 

f26 Life of St, Char Us Borromeo. 

)anic-struck at his purpose, but did not venture 
iither to interpose between the saint and his zeal, 
)r to follow him in his heroism, but hung back 
n fear and hesitation. St Charles nevertheless 
umed towards the chamber of death in his pontifical 
vestments, with the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, 
le was met on his way by John Baptist Capra, 
Deputy Governor, and Alfonso Gallarato, his Lieu- 
enant, and other members of the City Council, 
vho had come together to beg him on their knees 
n the name of the state not to expose his precious 
ife to risk. Thev urired tliat lie was endanceriDcr 
limself without any necessity, since any priest might 
ct for him ; and were accompanied by several priests, 
irho were ready to go in his place, rather than 
hat he should be exposed again to danger. They 
lid him reflect what would be their condition if the 
enture should prove fatal to him; that his beloved 
ity and diocese would then indeed be left desolate, 
nd the poor and the sick be in despair. Thus all 
lie religious exercises he had instituted would fall 
ito disuse, and his priests, whom his example had 
Qcouraged to attend the plague-stricken with so 
mch charity, would lose heart when they had their 
'astor no longer with them. They prayed him, there- 
)re, for the love of Jesus Christ and his flock, to 
sten to them, and if he had no regard for his 
wn safety, at least to consider the entreaties of his 
Diritual children. St. Charles stood firm, however, 


ill bearing the Blessed Sacrament, and listened to 
11 they had to say, while the tears rolled down his 

Administers Sacraments to Plague-stricken. 427 

cheeks, as he perceived the sincerity and earnestness 
of their affection which had brought them to his 
feet. Yet he would not sufifer himself to be carried 
away by these human feelings from the duties of his 
episcopal oflBce; but answered them briefly, that while 
he fully appreciated their attachment, he prayed them 
not to take it ill that he could not abandon his 
purpose. " Was he not," he said, " especially the 
pastor of his priests, and how could he exhort them 
to risk their lives for their people, if he, their head 
and Archbishop, feared to put himself in the same 
danger for them, and, moreover, broke his word so 
often pledged to them, that he would administer the 
last sacraments to them ? The lives of all were in the 
hand of God, and if it should please Him to call 
him to Himself at this time, they were not to distress 
themselves, but have confidence in His mercy, on 
which alone the safety of the city depended, and He 
would provide them with a better pastor." 

As it was clear that he had already counted the 
cost, and that his resolution was not to be shaken, 
they had perforce to let him go on his way without 
further hindrance, only testifying by their sorrow the 
reluctance with which they saw him prefer the duties 
of a simple priest to his own so highly valued by them 
all. He went to the sick-room, and closing the door 
upon himself and the plague-stricken patient, gave him 
Holy Communion. Then perceiving him to be near his 
end, he gave him the last anointing and disposed him 
for death. Thus fortified with the sacraments, the 
blessing of his Archbishop, and the plenary indulgence 

1-28 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

or the hour of death, the sick man passed to his 

Here we must mention a memorable example of 
ratemal charity in a priest who is still living, Aloy- 
ius Chignolo, of the Church of St Paul at the meeting 
>f the wavs, who carried his devotion to the sick so 
ar that he not only, like the Cardinal, attended upon 
hem in their last moments, but washed and prepared 
heir bodies for burial after death. 

Short Iv after this event we have narrated, the saint 
vas informed that tlie parish priest of St. Peter in 
-aminadella had been seized by the maladv and was 
n a precarious state. He at once set out to visit him, 
)ut the sick man hearing of liis intention and unwilling 
hat his Pastor's life should be endangered, went down 
nto the church just at the moment of the Cardinal's 
.rrival, who was much surprised, knowing him to be 
a a dying state. He gave him Holy Communion, and 
hen made him return to his bed, and would have 
■nointed him there, but the priest rather than let him 
tay longer in such a place assured him it was not yet 
ime. The saint persevered, however, and returning 
he next morning to give him Extreme Unction, found 
hat he had prevailed upon some pious persons in 
.ttendance to bring him down again into the church. 
Jut St. Charles, knowing him to be at the point of 
ieath, had him carried up again to his bed, while he 
oUowed in his pontificals, and regardless of the fetid 
.tmosphere gave him Extreme Unction, staying with 
lim through his agony, and recommending his soul to 
xod till he breathed his last. 

Administers Sacraments to Plague-stricken. 429 

The Saint after this, discharged the same offices for 
the parish priests of St Victor near the theatre, and 
of St. Babylas ; and, indeed, in every case that occurred, 
his example encouraging all to look to the safety of 
their brethren rather than their own. Yet, he invari- 
ably adopted every precaution of prudence, and never 
ran any risk where tliere was no need. Still more 
cautious was he where others were concerned, and 
when he had been engaged where there was danger of 
giving infection to others, he would isolate himself for 
several days, doing everything for himself during that 
time, and he required all priests who attended the sick 
to observe the same rule. 

Pai7€ 427.— " Be Kould provide them toith a better paHor, ** 

On toother oeeaaion, when OtUTio Abbiato Forrero, one of hit etnont, 
begged the taint not to wear himself out with to many anxietiei, be re- 
pUed, *'6od grant I may wear out indeed ! then He would gi?e you a 
better pastor." 

( 430 ) 




IE plague had not confined its ravages to the city, 
r more than a hundred towns and villages of the 
ocese had suffered from it. Everywhere St Charles 
IS at pains to provide the same means of relief, the 
me prayers and processions, as he had used in the 
Btropolis. For this purpose he sent round those on 
lose judgment he could rely, with instructions to 
rry out his wishes. Difficulties were thrown in his 
ly by the civil officers, who misunderstood his in- 
ations ; but he overcame all obstacles by prudent 
magement. When he had brought both spiritual 
d secular matters into good train at Milan, he 
ought he could then visit the rest of his diocese 
thout in any way neglecting the capital. 
Wherever he appeared, his presence seemed to in- 
3e fresh life and hope into the panic-stricken people ; 
ir and despair vanished at his approach. No won- 
r; for by kind words and sympathy he everywhere 

Visiis the Infected Places in his Diocese, 43 1 

assuaged the sorrows of the suffering, and silenced 
repinings, filling them with courage to endure all for 
the love of God, in satisfaction for their sins, to win 
an eternal crown. Those whom he found at the point 
of death he cheered with tlie bestowal of the plenary 
indulgence and with fatherly consolations. He mul- 
tiplied these blessings by stirring up the clergy to 
emulate his exertions, and to devote themselves with 
their whole soul and strength to the service and sal- 
vation of their flocks. 

To those who were spared by the pestilence, he 
likewise made it a time of edification by showing 
them how Gods judgments were abroad, and that 
they too might expect to perish unless they did 
penance for the sins which had provoked them. He 
denounced openly the vices of the age, rebuking those 
who profaned holy days and seasons by unseemly 
diversions or by servile work. Still more severe were 
his strictures on v£dn display in female attire, which 
he declared to be destructive to devotion, and the occa- 
sion of a number of sins and scandals, calling down the 
vengeance of heaven. 

His warnings were on one occasion signally enforced 
at Inzago, a place which had been terribly devastated 
by the plague. While he was preaching to the people 
there of the judgments of God, and calling upon them 
to do penance, he noticed among his hearers a lady 
decked out in a style of ostentation little suited to 
the occasion. The ill-timed display called forth a 
severe reprimand from the saint, who addressed her 
personally, pointing out her levity, and ending with 

•32 Life of St. C/iarles Borromeo. 

he solemn denunciation, '* Wretched woman ! thus to 
rifle with your eternal salvation, when you know not 
hat this day may not be your last in the world ! " 
?he next morning she was suddenly called to her 
.ccount, a calamity which brought a salutary fear on 
.11 who had heard his words. 

In many places huts had been constructed at a dis- 
ance, in imitation of those at Milan, for the reception 
►f the plague-stricken, and wherever this was the case 
le had little wooden chapels erected where Mass 
aight be said every day for the sick. Wherever it 
lad been found necessarv to carrv the dead outside 
he towns for burial, he consecrated graveyards ; and 
his rule was to him another occasion of great fatigue, 
or he would never omit any part of the customary 
leremonies, and was consequently obliged to remain 
or a long time exposed to the burning rays of the 
un and the exhalations of decaying corpses. The 
ortitude with which he endured these inconveniences 
vas particularly remarked at Inzago, where they were 
nore than usually intolerable. 

In his journeys he was entirely taken up with the 
lare of the sick, and made all his arrangements with a 
lingle view to this end, viz. : travelling with haste, 
aking his scanty meals by the way, allowing himself 
.he least possible time for sleep, and taking that little 
•est on a chair or a table in order not to run any un- 
lecessary risk of infection. It required no ordinary 
iegree of temper and judgment to keep all things in 
)rder in the midst of these difficulties. 

There was an impression abroad in spite of his being 

Visiis all the I ufecied Places in his Diocese, 433 

continually brought into contact with desperate cases 
of plague, that by a special grace he could not be a 
means of conveying infection, and therefore no one 
feared to approach him. jMany noblemen took pleasure 
in attending on his progress. Others insisted that he 
should go and lodge with them. Among these was a 
gentleman named Pozzo, who forced him, together with 
all his suite, to pass the night at his house in the 
town of Perego. Though the Cardinal was very un- 
willing, lest there should be risk of infection, his host 
would take no refusal, saying he feared no danger 
while the Cardinal was with him. His hospitality 
was greatly appreciated by the saint's household, who 
had for many nights been strangers to any better beds 
than boards or tables. 

There were occasions when the saint had to put up 
with very different treatment. Thus, one day at 
Gallarato, he had taken up his quarters at the 
house of the rector, when the mayor (podesti) of the 
place sent a guard of soldiers to surround it, with 
orders to forbid all entrance and egress, alleging that 
the Cardinal was a " suspect," and that he was deter- 
mined to preserve the town from the infection. This 
exercise of authority over ecclesiastical persons was, 
of course, displeasing to the Cardinal, who hinted that 
the functionary would be incurring the censures 
contained in the sacred canons. The next morn- 
ing, therefore, when all the chief persons came to 
visit him before his Mass, the mayor himself being 
among the number, he felt it his duty to take some 
notice of the matter, in order that it might not be 

VOL. I. a ^ 

434 Life of St. Charles Boi-romeo. 

made a precedent Accordinglj, the Cardinal made 
a remonstrance in forcible terms, tempered with his 
characteristic mildness, forbidding him to be present 
at the celebration of Mass or to enter the Church, 
jis having laid himself open to the censures of the 
Church. Upon this the mayor humbly acknowledged 
his error, and craved pardon of the Cardinal; and his 
friends interposing their good offices, the saint, who 
tlesired only confession of the fault and amendment, 
readily released him from censure. This example 
served as a warning to others, so that during the 
whole time the plague rajjed, the ministers of the 
Church were never again interfered with, and went 
wherever they would, provided only with the Car- 
dinal's licence, without let or hindrance from any 

The prolonged absence of the saint from Milan, at 
a time when communications between the difiFerent 
parts of the diocese were sedulously avoided, occa- 
sioned a rumour that he had fallen a victim to his 
zeal. It was bruited abroad not only in Milan, but 
in the remote towns of the province ; many bishops 
publicly lamenting his loss, and at Verona, the Bishop 
even celebrated Mass for the repose of his soul. In 
Milan the mourning was loud and general ; the mere 
thought of his death seeming to render every one 
beside himself for grief. When the saint himself 
heard of the report, his tender heart would not suflfer 
him to leave his people one moment longer than 
necessary in suspense on his account. He hastened 
to change their sorrow into joy by returning back to 

Visiis all the Infected Places in his Diocese. 435 

Milan with all speed. As usual he went in the first 
instance to return thanks in the Cathedral, and his 
arrival was immediately made known by the glad 
peals of the bells. This was the signal for universal 
rejoicing, which was greatly increased on his going 
to visit those who were confined to their dwellings 
by the quarantine — all rushing to their doors and 
windows to assure themselves of his presence. 

WTiile all his flock thus enjoyed the benefit of his 
care, none received a larger share than the dififerent 
communities of cloistered nuns. He kept them con- 
stantly occupied in religious exercises, praying that >. 
might please God to preserve them from the disease, 
and to moderate His indignation against the city. 
Further he protected them by wise precautions from 
every risk of contagion. As many of them were very 
poor, he took care that they should not sufifer want ; 
providing them out of his own means and begging 
alms for them especially at Eome, where some of the 
Cardinals gave generous contributions to their neces- 
sities. Thus by the grace of God they were wonder- 
fully preserved. To his great consolation, out of the 
whole number of convents in his diocese only two 
were infected, and those slightly, showing that the 
anger of God had been turned aside by the prayers 
of so many of His handmaidens. 

The malady reached the Great Seminary of Milan, 
and there was great alarm, but owing to the precau- 
tions taken its ravages were speedily stayed, two 
students and one Jesuit Father alone being carried off. 

( 436 ) 




The immuuity cujoyed by the saint iu the midst of 
the dangers by which he was beset was universally 
ascribed to the special favour of God. Neither he 
nor any of the persons who accompanied him on his 
errands of mercy ever caught any infection during the 
whole time the pestilence lasted. Yet he never made 
use of any antidote but a sponge dipped in vinegar 
which he carried in his hand in a little perforated 
case. It was always his maxim that in all matters 
pertaining to the exercise of his office, a Bishop ought 
not to encumber himself with precautions, that he 
ought to fulfil all that is required of him, and leave 
the rest entirely to God's good providence. In all 
those things which are not of obligation, he thought he 
ought not to tempt God by incurring unnecessary risk, 
but to adopt every precaution prudence might dictate. 
He used also to lay down this rule for the guidance of 
his chaplains and others, often going so far as to dis- 
suade them from exposing themselves without necessity. 
The virulence of the plague and its protracted dura- 

Correction of Faults in Clergy and People. 437 

tion had produced a great fear of death among the 
Milanese. The Cardinal, who had all along recognised 
the prime cause of the visitation and the only true 
means of removing it, was not slow to improve this 
salutary fear and make it a means of drawing his 
people to do penance and abandon all evil courses. 
Like a good shepherd, he was most anxious to cure the 
infirmities of his flock by providing them with every 
remedy for their various needs, with sermons, with the 
Sacraments, exhortations, and warnings, both in public 
and in private, and in this way brought back a number 
of sinners into the way of peace, especially among the 
upper classes and hardened sinners, two sets of persons 
most inaccessible to grace in ordinary times. He used 
to say that he reckoned this visitation of pestilence 
among his great consolations, as it had enabled him to 
work many conversions among his people. For when 
men find themselves face to face with death, their 
hearts are softened through their fear and expectation 
of the Divine judgments, and are thus prepared to listen 
to counsels of amendment 

It is an old saying that while the scourge of God 
brings the just to penance, it often tends to harden the 
reprobate, and it was verified at this time. There were 
some among the people who made it a time of more 
deliberate indulgence in sin than usual, taking advan- 
tage of the difficulties the quarantine placed in the 
way of bringing offenders to justice, to carry on their 
vicious practices. But though the rod of human justice 
might fail to reach them, the scourge of God overtook 
many, as happened in a well-known case. 

438 Life of St. Charles Borrovuo, 

Some Milanese nobles had gone for safety to a town 
at some distance. Having taken up the notion that 
there was no better preservative from contagion than 
leading a merry and self-indulgent life, they formed 
themselves into a Society to which they gave the name 
of the " Academy of Love," and abandoned themselves 
to all manner of profane and sensual pleasures, as 
if quite forgetful of their eternal salvation and the 
counsels of their pastor. But the hand of God found 
them out, and while they thought they had made 
themselves quite safe from every approach of the 
dreaded foe, the plague-spot suddenly appeared in their 
midst. Xo eflbrt sutficed to stay its ravages, and there 
was not a house which escaped its \'isitation. It was 
remarked that nowhere else had its havoc been so 
frightful, and it was readily acknowledged that God had 
thereby designed to punish in a signal manner the 
dissolute life of these blinded sinners. The more so 
that it was equally noticeable that in those places where 
the warnings of the saint had been heeded, the pestil- 
ence passed them over or touched them but slightly. 

In preaching penance and amendment of life, the 
Cardinal was careful, as usual, to set the example of 
practising what he recommended. Accordingly we 
find him at this time increasing his mortifications and 
setting himself with fresh fervour to gain greater holi- 
ness of life. Thus, among other things, he deprived 
himself of fires, also of flesh meat, and of the collation 
usually taken on the evening of fast-days, thus only 
taking food once in the day; and he resumed his 
habit of sleeping upon boards. These hardships were 

Correction of Faults in Clergy and People, 439 

not slight to one so delicately brought up, while the 
toils of his laborious career made' them all the more 
severe. He began also to make it his practice to 
preach to the peot)le on all festivals and twice in the 
week during Lent, also to attend the funerals of the 
canons both on account of good example as well as 
for his own interior perfection. During all this time 
he was carrying out his measures of reform, appointing 
visitors and others to see their proper execution in 
the different parts of the province. He put into force 
liis regulations to secure the proper reverence for holy 
places, such as requiring the closing of the side doors 
of many churches, which people were prone to make 
use of as an easy way of passing from one street tu 
another, as well as other important rules for the main- 
tenance of order and discipline among the clergy, 
striving by exactness and paternal admonitions to 
raise them to a more perfect standard, in order that 
they might be as much respected for the sanctity of 
their lives as for their holy vocation. In carrying out 
these measures he observed that the ancient and once 
universal practice of shaving the beard had in many 
cases fallen into disuse, and it had become verv 
general among the clergy to trim it according to the 
fashion of ,the age among men of the world. He 
judged that this salutary season, as he was wont to 
term it, was favourable for obtaining the abolition of 
this abuse, and he accordingly addressed his pastoral 
letter of the 30th December, 1 576, to his clergy upon 
this subject, calling upon them to conform to the 
ancient usage, which was still observed by some priests 

440 Life of St. Charles Borronteo. 

of Milan, although in other places it had altogether 
disappeared with other good customs. He showed 
how high their state was above that of the laity, and 
that it behoved them to walk worthily of their calling 
as consecrated to the service of God, letting their out- 
ward demeanour bear witness to the recollection of 
their hearts, and that above all thev should eschew 
all ostentation and display. In concluding he touched 
upon some of the mystical lessons which the practice 
might be thought to symbolise, and exhorted them to 
adopt it willingly and promptly. At the same time 
he himself appeared in public, conforming to the 
custom he recommended, and thus bv exhortation and 
example shortly obtained general observance of the 
rule, notwitlistandinu some little reluctance on the 
part of certain dignitaries. Having established the 
custom, he further enforced it by a decree of his next 
synod ; and took care that it should not again fall into 
abeyance during his life. Thus, an example was set 
which produced fruit in other parts also, and the 
Milanese clergy were seen shaven and shorn, disciples 
of their great Cardinal. 

Gregory XIII. had granted a general jubilee as a 
means of inviting all the faithful to penance and 
prayer, that God would vouchsafe to remove the 
scourge of pestilence which was desolating other 
parts of Italy as well as Milan. St. Charles was 
desirous of publishing this jubilee in his diocese as 
soon as the quarantine should be ended ; but when 
he came to confer upon the subject with the magis- 
trates, he found them averse to closing the quaran- 

Proclamaiion of a yubiUe. 441 

tine, or to affording any facilities for renewed inter- 
course among the people for fear of opening up new 
fields for the spread of the plague. It was their 
miud on the contrary to prolong the quarantine until 
the city should be declared free from aJl trace of the 
disorder. The Cardinal ^ould not dispute the point 
with them, though he was sorry that his people 
should be deprived both of the application of the 
treasures of the Church and of the benefit and con- 
solation of visiting tlie churches and hearing the 
Word of God at the holy season of Christmas. He 
wrote to represent this to tlie Governor, who kept 
liimself at a safe distance at Vigevano, and to warn 
liim against putting his trust too exclusively in 
human remedies, pointing out that God had already 
shown His mercy by greatly mitigating the infliction, 
so tliat what remained was rather to be looked upon 
as the consequence of the pestOence than the pesti- 
lence itseIC Neither did he omit to remind him that 
by the merciful providence of God it was manifest no 
evil had resulted from the earlier processions, though 
they took place at a time when the disease was raging 
most fiercely, and there was therefore the less reason 
to eipect any harm now when the malady had almost 
exhausted itself. His reasoning failed to remove the 
prejudices of the Governor, and the Cardinal yielded 
the point, deriving satisfaction from the fervour with 
which the people followed the exercises of piety he 
had prescribed for them. 

He deferred the publication of the jubilee, therefore, 
till the spring of the following year, 1577, when he 

442 Life of St. Charles Borromeo, 

held processions like those before described, and at- 
tended by a great concourse of persons. The saint 
also appeared in the same penitential garb, his feet 
bare notwithstanding ice and snow, and, together with 
his canons, threw himself prostrate on the ground, 
while the litanies were sung, beseeching God that 
He would be propitious to His people and graciously 
grant their supplications. This sight touched all 
hearts and moved them to contrition, in preparation 
for receiving the sacraments of penance and Holy 
Communion, and the benefits of the jubilee. He 
preached on each of the three days with an unction 
and fervour that moved the comiroLration to tears. 

Not onlv in Milan, but throu'diout the whole 
diocese, numbers of people were led to follow the 
example of their holy pastor, walking in the proces- 
sions barefoot, and showing every sign of penitence 
and sorrow for sin. 

Paffe 441. — TIte Gorcmoi'. 

This Oovernor is Antonio de Guzman, Marquess of Ayamonte, who 
came on the departure of Luis de Requesens to Flanders, p. 319. 

( 443 ) 




The fast of Lent, as it was originally observed in tin* 
Church, consisted of six entire weeks, or forty-twi» 
days, leaving, when the Sundays were omitted, only 
thirty-six, or a tithe of the whole year. To make it 
correspond with the number forty consecrated by the 
fast of our Divine Lord, St. Gregory the Great made 
it commence four days earlier in the Roman calendar. 
The Church of Milan, which has always kept to the 
Ambrosian rite, had never changed the original prac- 
tice. But in process of time the people yielded to 
the temptation of beginning the fast one day later, 
thus reckoning the first Sunday in the carnival time, 
not only eating meat, but giving themselves up tx) 
profane amusements. This abuse had even entered 
the sanctuary, and it had become customary to make 
the divine oflSces conform to this perverted usage by 
inserting therein alleluias, versicles, and antiphons 
of rejoicing. Thus the practice in a vicious circle 
reacted upon the habits of the people and seemed to 

444 Life of St. Charles Borrameo. 

sanction their misappropriation of the day to sports 
and pleasures. 

From the beginning of his episcopate St. Charles 
had condemned this abuse, and had brought a great 
many of the people to the general Communion and 
the sermons and other religious exercises, but there 
was still a large number of worldly persons who 
preferred to spend the day in their own fashion. 
He, therefore, found it necessary to adopt more 
vigorous measures, and resolved to make the religi- 
ous observance of the day a matter of ecclesiastical 

However, before doing this, he consulted with 
several prudent theologians at Rome and Milan, and 
addressed a pastoral letter to his flock on the sub- 
ject, dated March i, 1576. In this letter he ordered 
that the observance of the day should be proclaimed 
simultaneously with the jubilee of the Holy Year, 
knowing that men's minds would thus be better inclined 
to the ordinance. He proved, by reference to St. 
Ambrose, St. Augustin, and St, Gregory, and other 
doctors, that this Sunday was commanded by Holy 
Church to be observed as the commencement of the 
Lenten abstinence, and that it was so observed not 
only in the time of St. Ambrose, but also of later 
Archbishops of the city, citing in confirmation of this 
a constitution of Ottone Visconti, who was elected in 
the pontificate of Urban IV. He exhorted laymen 
aflfectionately to accept the ordinance in a Christian 
spirit, as dutiful children of the Church, and the 
clergy also, that their example might ro^ 

Observance of the' First Sunday of Lent. 445 

encourage the laity to do the same ; and lastly, forbade 
the celebration of marriage on that day under any 

The injunctions of this letter were obeyed by most 
persons, and when the people were humbled by the 
scourge of the pestilence, aud ready to acknowledge 
their dependence on the mercy of God, a favourable 
time seemed to have arrived for fully carrying out its 
observance. This he did by publishing a general edict 
to the effect, and afterwards still more stringently by 
a synodal decree, so that at last this day was kept 
according to pristine observance. There still remained 
some who rebelled at the restriction of their pleasures, 
but their opposition was before long overborne by the 
cheerful acquiescence of the better-disposed on the 
one hand, and by the signal chastisement which befell 
some of the profane worldlings on the other. 

To mention but one such event, a member of a noble 
family having engaged in a perverse spirit to set at 
nought the ordinance of his pastor, sat down on that 
day to eat meat in defiance of the prohibition ; but it 
so happened that without any cause to which he could 
ascribe his inability, he found himself unable to swallow 
a single morsel Becognising his error, and having 
done penance, he was remarked afterwards for his 
careful conformity to the precepts of the ChurcL 

The fear of contagion having now passed away, with 
the return of mutual intercourse in the city there came 
new labours for the saint Instead of allowing him- 
self some relaxation, he girded himself up to undertake 
fresh toils. It seemed to him to be a season for work- 

446 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

iug good among his people, and he would not let the 
opportunity slip away unimproved. While the remem- 
brance of their deliverance was fresh in their minds, 
he resolved to make a general visitation of the city and 
diocese. He accordingly wrote a pastoral letter, dated 
February 2, 1 577, to the people, announcing this inten- 
tion, and calling upon them to prepare themselves for 
it, so that it might bring forth fruit The following is 
an extract : — 

" Out of the pastoral solicitude of our office, we have 
at this time resolved to renew the bonds which unite 
us together, as if those ties and obligations were to 
begin this day, and as if those words of God, spoken 
in a like case by Jeremy the prophet, had been uttered 
to-day : 'Lo I have set thee this day over the nations, 
and over kingdoms to root up and to pull down, and 
to waste and to destroy, and to build and to plant/ 
When Judas Machabeus, the pious captain of the 
Hebrew people, bad mourned in sackcloth and ashes the 
desolation of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the afflic- 
tion of the priests and people, God gave him strength 
and courage to repair that terrible overthrow. Thus 
his first care was to visit the Temple and to set priests 
of blameless lives, zealous for the law of God, to purify, 
restore, and adorn it, while he deputed others to fight 
their enemies, who, from the hills round about, strove 
to impede the work. So now our first care shall be 
to visit the whole of this city and diocese, sharing our 
labour and solicitude with the priests our fellow- 
workers ; sending some to look to the reparation and 
decoration of the material temples, the discipline of the 

Blessing of the City. 447 

ministry, and all things pertaining to the worship of 
Almighty God, commissioning others to watch over the 
spiritual care of the people, strengthening them with 
blessings and sacraments and the arms of spiritual 
warfare against the temptations of the enemy, as well 
as to correct errors and abuses, to punish the perverse 
and those who set stumblincj-blocks in the wav of 
amendment of life, — all, in various ways, labouring to 
build up and perfect in Christian discipline the souls 
committed to our care. For it is not only necessary 
to take away things that soil and stain, we have to 
adorn the spiritual edifice with the beauty of holiness. 
It will be our earnest endeavour, with the help of God, 
to cut off all occasions of sin both public and private, 
to overthrow the dominions of the devil, to implant 
the love of God, of devotion, brotherly love, and works 
of piety, to purge all the people, their houses, their 
families, and every soul from foul oflTences — from the 
indwelling of evil and the profanation which the in- 
ordinate love of earthly things works in the soul. 
This purgation is the real work we have to do in order 
to be entirely delivered by God's mercy from the plague 
and to be preserved in the future from its contagion." 
These words suflBce to show us the spirit in which 
the saint undertook his visitation. During its course 
he solemnly blessed the houses of the people, a cere- 
mony of ancient use, to resist the invasion of the spirit 
of evil, to drive away pestilence and sickness, and to 
make them more worthy to be the dwelling-places of 
our angel guardians. He explained the value of this 
blessing in his pastoral, pointing out the way in whicli 

448 Life of St. Charles Borromeo, 

they were to prepare for it, as he had before directed 
heads of families to arrange for the blessing of their 
houses with holy water on the vigil of Christmas, 
according to the Ambrosian rite followed at Milan. 
He particularly impressed upon them the duty of 
removing ever3'thing which did not accord with Chris- 
tian morals and might ofifend the most pure eyes of 
Almighty God, such as profane and lascivious pictures, 
light and sinful books, cards, dice, masks, and all things 
which might be occasions of sin, — furnishing theirdwell- 
ings instead with holy images, with spiritual books, and 
all things likely to kindle devotion and the fear of Go«l. 
He begged them to prepare themselves by Confession and 
Communion to receive cjrace from God and heavenlv 
beuedictiou. He printed a little book containing the 
psalms and prayers for this holy function and the cere- 
monies to be observed ; sjivirn^ directions to the clerjv 
not to bless houses where there were excommunicated 
persons, women of bad character, usurers, and other 
public and notorious sinners, where public gambling 
or anything else was carried on contrary to Christian 
piety. In this way he hoped to purge the city and 
diocese of profanity, and to introduce a true and per- 
fect standard of practice. 

The visitation was then begun with the usual state 
and ceremonial. The Milanese hailed it as the signal 
and earnest of returning health and peace to see their 
Archbishop once more passing through their streets in 
the splendour of his ofi&ce, where they had a short 
time before beheld him toiling painfully along in the 
garb of penance, borne down by the weight of their 

Blessing of the City. 


sins. They all ran to the cathedral to rejoice their 
eyes with the sight. Leaving the cathedral, he went 
on to bless every part of the Archbishop's palace, and 
the house of the Canons annexed. As he proceeded 
to bless the houses of the laity, who had them all 
adorned duly to honour the ceremony, the evil one, full 
of malice at this manifestation of piety, moved the 
envy of the officers of the crown, who pronounced it 
an infringement of the royal jurisdiction. Finding 
upon consultation that the Governor was inclined to 
support them in this view, they pressed their objec- 
tions so urgently upon the Cardinal, that he thought 
it well to yield, though he could not but grieve to see 
a good work so soon cut short. 


2 F 

( 450 ) 




With Lent came fresh anxieties for our saint in the 
shape of new impediments in the way of the spiritual 
progress of his flock. 

It had been discovered that some of the persons 
employed to disinfect the clothes and other things 
belonging to those who had died of the plague had 
purloined certain of them for their own use, and in 
their haste to hide their booty had not taken care to 
cleanse them properly. This, it was thought, might 
occasion a new outbreak of the pestilence, and as one 
or two cases had really occurred to cause alarm, the 
Governor by the advice of the Council renewed the 
quarantina This time, however, it was not acquiesced 
in so readily by the people, many of whom would 
not absent themselves from the Lenten services and 
sermons. But when the festival of the Annunciation 
came, which is always kept in Milan with solemnity, 
drawing great multitudes of strangers on account of 
the perpetual plenary indulgence, granted by the Sove- 
reign Pontiff in form of jubilee to the cathedral and 

Procession of tlu Holy Natl. 45 1 

the great hospital alternately, nothing could keep the 
people from availing themselves of the opportunity of 
grace thus thrown open to them. It was manifest 
that God had been pleased to enkindle great devotion 
in the hearts of the people, for not content with visit- 
ing the churches appointed for gaining the jubilee, 
they crowded to every shrine and place of worship, as 
if they could never be weary of praising God ?.r"^. 
rendering thanks to His saints, by whom their lives 
liad been preserved fn the midst of the plague ; and 
they rejoiced with each other in visits of congratula- 
tion, as if they had returned from exile or imprison- 

It was a more serious matter, however, that the 
decrees of the magistrates against the thefts were dis- 
regarded and the penalties set at nought. No progress 
was made till the Cardinal took the matter in hand, 
and at Easter-time published an edict on the serious 
nature of the ofifence, giving all concerned to know 
that it was a mortal sin, not only as a theft, but 
also on account of the injury to their neighbour, by 
endangering their lives and multiplying sources of 
infection. He laid the penalty of excommunication 
upon all who should thereafter be guilty of this offence, 
reserving absolution to himself. At the same time 
he gave directions to Confessors respecting the cases of 
those persons who had thus been blinded by avarice. 

After this he obtained permission from the Governor 
for every one to leave their houses for the Paschal 
Confession and Communion, according to the precepts 
of the Church. All were greatly consoled by this' 

452 Life of St, C liar Us Borromeo. 

favour, and it was so pleasing to God, that no case 
of infection occurred, although the churches were 
daily thronged : nor was there any further need to 
make quarantine regulations. 

In his zeal to do honour to his Divine Master, the 
saint bethoudit himself that the Holv Nail of the 
Passion, which is one of the chief relics of the Church 
of Milan, had not in times past received that venera- 
tion to which it was entitled, havinir been but seldom 
shown for the devotion of the people. He determined 
to institute a solemn procession and to carry the relic 
himself throuiih the citv in state cverv vear on the 
Feast of the Invention of the Cross, ^lay 3, starting 
from the Church of the Holy Sepulcre,^ as having a 
particular reference to the Passion of our Lord. 

From this church the saint led the first procession 
in honour of the precious relic of the Passion, followed 
by the Governor, and magistracy, and the people of the 
city, the women and children excepted, who were not 
yet allowed to leave their homes. On the morning 
of the feast he had the relic taken from its shrine 
in the church and placed on a monstrance of elaborate 
workmanship. It was then set on a cross in a crystal 
and silver case and carried by the Cardinal himself in 
full pontificals during the whole procession under a 
canopy borne in turn by the Governor, the senators, 

1 This charch was built in the jeAr iioo by Benedict Roceio Cortesellft, 
upon the model of that at Jerusalem, in memory of a signal victory of 
the Crusaders in Palestine the year 1099, when they delivered the Holy 
City from the Infidels, and made Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine, their King. 
Cortesella on that occasion headed a band of seven thouiand I^Iilaneie, 
who much distinguished themselves. 

Procession of the Holy Nail. 453 

and principal nobles of the city. Through the whole 
way he kept his eyes intently fixed on the precious 
relic of Bedemption, while his thoughts dwelt on the 
sufferings of the Saviour of the world, till the tears 
ran down his cheeks. The people were not slow in 
responding to the invitation their pastor had given 
them to show it honour, hanging draperies from their 
windows and following themselves in numbers, each 
parish with its proper banner, and each one with a 
light in his hand, like an army of Christian <?oldiers. 
The weather lent another charm, for the morning had 
opened cloudy, but at the time the Holy Xail was 
taken from its shrine the rain ceased, and the sun 
shone till the close of the "ceremonv, when the rain 
again fell in torrents. On arriving at the Church of 
the Holy Sepulcre, the Cardinal took several gold 
pieces from his almoner, and dropped them into a box 
at the door to set an example to the people of offer- 
ing their alms in honour of the Passion of our Lord. 
On the return of the procession to the cathedral, the 
Cardinal sang a solemn Mass, and preached to the people, 
beginning with the story of the Emperor Heraclius, 
who when vested in the insignia of his imperial 
dignity — the mantle and the diadem — was not found 
worthy to carry the holy cross on which the Son of 
God was lifted on Calvary, but was forced to lay aside 
his trappings before he could raise that tree of scorn. 
This he applied to himself, and said that when that 
morning he saw the violence of the storm, he had felt 
a misgiving that God had sent it on account of his 
unworthiness. He then spoke of their spiritual needs. 

454 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

bewailing the insensibility of those who had not made 
good use of the season of God's visitation, through which 
they had just passed, but continued to live at ease ; 
and exhorted them to show their gratitude to God, and 
their perpetual remembrance of the bitter Passion of 
His Son, which they were especially bound to have 
graven on their hearts, as they had in their midst this 
precious token of His sufferings. After the Mass, the 
relic was left exposed on the High Altar for forty hours' 
adoration, at the close of which the saint again preached 
from the words of the prophet Isaias : " Behold the 
hand of tlie Lord is not shortened that it cannot save, 
but your iuic^uities have divided between you and your 
God;"^ in which he lamented the ravages of sin in 
the soul of man, comparing it to a wall of separation 
preventing our prayers from reaching the ear of God, 
and standing in the way of His grace which He would* 
pour into our hearts according to our needs, and which 
but for that obstruction would have softened them, 
even though they had been hard as stone. In another 
discourse he spoke of the brazen serpent which Moses 
set up in the wilderness, by gazing on which the people 
were healed of their wounds, as a figure of our Divine 
Lord, who, being raised upon the wood of the cross, 
gave salvation to us miserable sinners, and freed us 
from the penalty of eternal death, drawing thence 
motives of love to God, who had by such means de- 
livered us from our sins. Moreover, He had been 
pleased to leave the people of Milan one of the sacred 
instruments of His Passion, stained, with His very 

1 Isaiaa lix. i. 

Procession of the Holy Nail. 455 

blood. He spoke so movingly that there was not a 
person present whose heart was not pierced and filled 
with the love of God. And it was manifest that the 
Spirit of God both spoke and worked by him. He 
remained in the church all the fortv hours, from the 
early morning till late at night, without taking any 
food or rest. When the devotion was over, he carried 
the Holy Nail once more in procession round the cathe- 
dral, and then while it was placed again in its shrine, 
he remained on his knees in the pulpit, discoursing to 
the people ; and so fervent was he in his veneration, 
that he moved the people to cry aloud to Heaven for 
mercv in tones that would have moved the hardest 
heart. To help their devotion, he had facsimiles made 
of the nail ^ for distribution among the people, so that 
they might keep them in their houses. This pro- 
cession and devotion is repeated every year at Milan, 
and attracts multitudes of people from all parts. 

^ One of these he htd made with great care, and after touching the 
original with it, lent it to hia Catholic Majesty King Philip IL 

( 456 ) 




0/ / 

The city did not yet obtain complete freedom from 
the pestilence. Ever and anon alarming rumours 
would be heard that the plague-spot had again been 
seen. The Cardinal himself was afraid that there 
might be yet remaining among the people traces of 
the old leaven to stir up the anger of God, and to 
cause the scourge to be again raised in His hand. 
To provide against another visitation, he obtained 
from Eome the faculties to publish a jubilee to per- 
fect the purification of the souls under his charge, 
and to make them fit to appear before the face of 
God. This jubilee was published in the July of this 
year, 1577. He called upon the people to co-operate 
earnestly with him, and really to begin a new course 
of life, and prepare themselves with their whole soul 
and strength, to receive their share of the treasures 
now put within their reach. He then held the ^-Vi^'o** 

Celebration of the yubilee. 457 

customary processions, preaching every day, and urging 
his flock to avail themselves of these spiritual aids. 

About this time there was offered him another 
occasion for showing his love and solicitude for his 
l)eople. The plague had broken out at Brescia. The 
intelligence grieved him, for the love he bore the 
inhabitants of that city. Still more was he grieved 
when he heard that its Bishop had taken flight, 
alarmed because some of his household had caught 
the infection, abandoning his flock to their fate. It 
needed no more to induce the saint to visit this 
afflicted people and offer them all the assistance in 
his power. "While he was preparing to start for the 
place, the Bishop himself found means to prevent his 
undertaking the journey. St Charles did not, how- 
ever, give up the cause of the people of Brescia, but 
wrote to their pastor to remonstrate with him, and 
to beg him to return forthwith, at the same time 
giving him rules for his guidance — the results of his 
own experience. The Bishop complied, and on his 
return, the Cardinal sent to him Father Paul, the 
capuchin, who had done so much good at the hospital. 

In pursuance of the dedication to St. Sebastian 
before mentioned, the Council general of Milan had 
collected a large part of the funds necessary for re- 
building the church of that saint, and the foundations 
had been prepared. After Mass on the vigil of our 
Lady's Nativity, St. Charles laid the first stone of 
the church in memory of the deliverance of the city 
from pestilence, through the intercession of this glori- 
ous martyr. 

458 Life of St. diaries Borrameo. 

From this constant desire of making every religious 
ceremonial productive of lasting fruit among the people, 
St Charles addressed another pastoral letter to his flock 
in October of this year to prepare them for the worthy 
celebration of the procession in honour of St. Sebastian, 
which was fixed for the i Sth of that month. This 
preparation he made to consist in three days of fasting 
and prayer, to obtain the entire removal of the scourge 
of pestilence which still lurked in this city, as well as 
the deliverance of the other towns and provinces which 
had been visited by it ; and more especially as a mark 
of contrition for past sins and of amendment of life. 
He exhorted them also to dve abundantlv of their sub- 
stance in alms on the first day for the church of the 
Holy Sepulcre ; on the second, for the ruined church 
of Great St. Laurence, which he wished to rebuild ; 
and to encourage the people to greater liberality, he 
foretold that the Queen of heaven would show great 
favour to this church, which indeed came to pass. 
For God vouchsafed to work many miracles by her 
pictures which the saint had painted on the walls of 
this church, bringing a great concourse of people, by 
whose alms the building was greatly advanced. Their 
alms on the third day were to be devoted to the hospital 
for mendicants, which he was preparing to found in 
Milan. He then recommended all to go to Confession 
and Communion on the following Sunday, in order to 
gain the indulgence he had obtained for them from 
Rome. This indulgence was likewise granted to all 
other places in the diocese which had followed the 
same course of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer as in 

Prayers for the Repose of Souls. 459 

Milau. The procession to St. Sebastian's was then 
solemnly celebrated, and alms offered for the comple- 
tion of the edifice. 

The victims of the plague who had experienced the 
care of the saint were no less objects of his solicitude 
now that they were buried out of sight of men. Many 
of them indeed had left no one behind to remember 
them. After Martinmas he sew himself to gain for 
them the suffrages of the faithful throughout the 
diocese, and ordered the solemn office for the dead to 
be offered three times in their behalf in the cathedral, 
requiring the city clergy to be present ; and at two 
other collegiate churches, with the attendance of the 
clergy of their respective districts. In the convents 
of Begulars, and in all the parochial and collegiate 
churches of the diocese, he required that each priest 
should say a Mass for the repose of their souls. Nor 
did he forget to admonish the laity to offer up their 
prayers for their deceased brethren, writing a pastoral 
letter exhorting them to assist at the said offices by 
their suffrages, alms, and visits, particularly to the 
seven stational churches of Milan. To move them 
more powerfully to lend their assistance, he dwelt in 
this letter with great force on the intensity of the 
pains suffered by the souls detained in purgatory. 

While he was engaged in forwarding these works 
of charity, at the return of spring, news was brought 
him of disorders of no small moment which had 
occurred in the Swiss parts of his diocese, such that, if 
they were not speedily repressed, worse might follow. 
Upon these representations, he set out without loss of 

460 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

time, and travelled so rapidly that he accomplished in 
a day and a night what was usually reckoned as two 
days' journey. Leaving Milan late one night, he 
reached Biasca, in the valley of Bregno, two hours 
before daybreak of the second day, passing over Monte 
Cenere at midnight As the mountain paths were all 
frozen or covered with snow, it was necessary, where 
they were very steep towards Bellinzona, for him not 
only to dismount, but to climb on his hands and knees, 
which were cut, and bled profusely. He paid little 
or no attention to them, however, and after a couple of 
hours' rest set himself to repair the mischief that had 
arisen. He visited some of the towns in these parts 
where the plague had penetrated, doing all he could 
for the relief of the sufferers, and giving Communion 
to great numbers of the infected. This new instance 
of his self-devotion increased the fame of his sanctity 
throughout these parts, as well as the sorrow of the 
people when he left them to keep the Christmas fes- 
tival in Milan. 

( 46i ) 




It was now maiiifest throughout the city and diocese 
of Milan that God had been pleased at length to 
remove the scourge of pestilence, notwithstanding the 
apprehensions entertained by some timid people that 
a fresh outbreak might occur in the spring. The 
Cardinal, who was confident that the prayers of the 
people had been heard, urged his convictions so for- 
cibly upon the municipal authorities, that he suc- 
ceeded in driving away their fears, and obtaining 
their consent to put an end to the regulations of 

Here was a fresh opportunity to lead the minds 
of his flock heavenwards, and St Charles did not fail 
to make use of it. We cannot but be struck with 
his watchfulness in seizing such occasions, and his 
energy in improving them to the glory of God and 
salvation of souls. In the first place he published a 
little book, entitled ** Instructions to the people of 
the city and diocese of Milan for the Christian life 

462 Life of St. Charles, Borromeo. 

in every class of persons/' intended to be a rule to 
all for their spiritual guidance to help them in living 
holily in the world, teaching them to consider that 
the reign of sin ought to have passed away from 
among them with the pestilence, which had been 
sent as its scourge, and that it behoved them from 
henceforth to lead a new life of spirituality and per- 
fection. This was accompanied by a pastoral letter, 
dwelling on the obligation which rested upon every 
one to show his thankfulness to God for extinguish- 
ing the plague, by trying to lead a life pleasing to 

He further required all the clergy and people to 
join in public acts of thanksgiving, including three 
processions and sermons ; in the last of which he 
carried a sacred relic, followed by all the clergy, the 
magistrates, and the people, passing through every 
quarter and principal street, stopping at several 
places where altars had been erected, so that, 
although beginning at an early hour, they did not 
return to the cathedral till late in the day. On each 
of the three days of the processions, he desired that 
every priest should say a Mass of thanksgiving, and 
that in the evening on its return, the Te Deum 
should be sung at the Ave in every collegiate, paro- 
chial, and regular church. 

On the return of the third procession to the 
cathedral, he commenced the devotion of the Forty 
Hours, after carrying the Blessed Sacrament roimd 
the church. During the whole time of these forty 
hours the Saint remained in the church, addressing 

Thanksgivi7tg for Deliverance fro7n Plagtie, 46 


the people from the pulpit every hour. These pro- 
cessions were likewise observed iii all parts of the 
diocese, as. he had directed the rural deans to procure 
the attendance of clergy and people, that none might 
be wanting to this duty of rendering thanks to God 
for His mercies. He also printed a little book of de- 
votions and prayers proper to the occasion. Finally, 
he brought the whole action to a close by another 
procession round the cathedral, in the same order as 
before, with clergy and people and each parish with 
its banner. 

In his sermon on one of these days he spoke 
confidently of the deliverance of the city as being 
miraculous; and in a book which he published about 
this time, entitled " ilemoriale,*' he used the follow- 
ing words : — " There is one thing, my children, of 
which we must make mention, which will make us 
appreciate more fully the magnitude of the mercies 
we have received at the hand of God. And it is 
this, that it was not to this city alone that this 
favour was granted of quenching the plagrcj, but to 
the whole diocese, and that in so marked a manner, 
that it was at one and the same time that health 
was restored to both. Nearly one hundred places 
of this diocese were infected, and at this moment 
there is not one spot which is not perfectly freed 
from it. Praised be the name of the Lord always, 
and by all, but chiefly by us who have tasted of His 
loving-kindness." Again, in the seventh chapter of 
the second part of the same work he says : — " Have 
always before you this great benefit which God has 

464 Life of St. Charles Borromeo. 

so miraculously worked for you, and never be at any 
time unmindful of His mercy." 

In another place, still speaking of their deliverance, 
he says : — " This is no effect of our prudence, which 
indeed failed us at the very outset, and left us be- 
wildered and lost; nor is it due to the skill of physicians, 
who have not yet discovered so much as the origin of 
this malady, much less the means of counteracting it ; 
nor does it come of tender care for the sick, for they 
were at the first outbreak deserted by their nearest 
and dearest. No, my children, no ; let us never fail 
to acknowledge this — it was the effect of God's mercv 
alone. It is He who has stricken us, and He who 
has healed our wounds — He who has scourged us, and 
He who has comforted us. He has taken the rod of 
discipline into His hand, and by His touch has changed 
it into a staff of support." 

In the same way, in another place he brings for- 
ward reasons why this deliverance was delayed, and 
why God did not at once grant the prayer of His 
people. " It was thus that, by deferring the time of 
restoration to health, God taught us day by day more 
and more plainly the vanity of the hopes which many 
placed in human efforts — taught us also that it was 
the work of His hand — and by this means pointed 
out to us the true wav of restoration. He did not 
heal us all at once, that we might know that He 
required of us perfect conversion and amendment" 

The faith and confidence with which he made these 
assertions at a time when the rest of the population 
was hovering between fear and hope, doubtful whether 

Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Plague. 465 

the disease did not yet lurk among them — was taken 
as a proof that he could only have known the truth 
by revelation from God, and that this immunity had 
been granted by Him out of regard to the merits 
of the saint in answer to his tears, his prayers, and 

St Charles himself seemed never to think that he 
had returned praise and thanks enough to the Divine 
[Majesty. Over and above the public acts we have 
mentioned, he wrote letters to all the bishops of the 
province exhorting them not to suffer God's mercy 
to be forgotten, but to stir up the people to show tlieir 
gratitude in earnest. To this appeal they readily 
responded, and at the same time testified their thank- 
fulness to him for havinc; obtained this mercv for them. 
Among others, Xicolo Sfrondato, Bishop of Cremona, 
afterwards Cardinal and Pope, under the title of 
Gregory XIV., not content with congratulating him by 
letter came to Milan on purpose to repeat them by 
word of mouth. While there he preached in the 
cathedral before the Governor, senate, and luagistrates, 
upon the greatness of the mercy shown to them; 
edifying them by the lessons he taught, and gratifying 
them by so public a recognition of the merits of their 
beloved pastor. 

To render their gratitude still more lasting the saint 
imdertook another work, entailing upon him consider- 
able labour, the publication of a book entitled, " A 
Remembrance for his Beloved People of the City and 
Diocese of l^Iilan." It was intended to keep up their 
remembrance of the calamities and miseries of the time 

VOL. I. a ^ 

466 Life of St, Charles Borrovieo. 

of pestilence, and of the mercy of God in delivering 
them from its horrors. I have called this book a work 
of great labour, because to write it he would not in- 
terrupt any of his other duties, but subtracted from 
his already scanty modicum of rest all the time that 
he required for its composition. This was not done 
without crreat violence to nature, and his secretarv 
obsers'ed that need of sleep would overcome him from 
time to time, yet that he would soon rouse himself and 
take up the thread where he had dropped it, without 
requiring the repetition of what had gone before ; 
as if he had kept his attention alive to the matter 
lie was dictating, in a way which seemed quite mira- 
culous. But other persons of sound judgment have 
thought that what the secretary took to be slumber, 
was rather an abstraction of his mind in God, and a 
species of rapture, being guided to this conclusion by 
the loftiness of conception, lucidity of expression, and 
tone of spirituality which pervades the work, from 
which it seemed to them that he had been in those 
moments lost in contemplation, and that he afterwards 
dictated the ideas he then received from God. 

The moment the city of Milan was released from 
the restrictions of the quarantine, her former extensive 
relations of commerce were resumed on all sides, and 
a concourse of strangers as great as ever filled her 
streets. Much wonder was felt when, on taking a 
census of the victims, it was found that during the 
whole period of the plague not more than seventeen 
thousand persons had died in the city, and eight thou- 
sand in the rest of tv.e diocese, of wliich n' ' '^ 

Tlianksgiving far Deliverance from Plagiie. 467 

hundred and twenty were ecclesiastics ; whereas, at the 
last visitation in the year 1524, fifty thousand had 
died in four months in Milan alone, and an incalcul- 
able number in the other towns and districts. In this 
the Milanese discovered anotlier proof of the blessings 
they had derived from the labours and merits of their 

' St. Charles, at this time, urged upon the Pope, Gregory XIII., the 
foundation of an English CoUege at Rome. 

Xote on page 3S, vol. i. 

The episode of Dom Barthohmew of the MiDiijrs, O.P.y p. 3S-47, it nut 
found in Giuttano^t Life^ but it taken by permittivn from the Life of St. 
Charlei by E. HeaJy Thompton, £sq., and from that of the VenerabU 
Dom Baiiholomewy trantlatcd by Lady Herbert ^ tee Chaptert xx., xxiti., 
and zxr.— Editor. 










■ > o < * 









Juit Puhliiked, 



]5y rev. AV. HUMPHREY, S.J. 
3 vols., pp. 1200. Cloth, royal 8vo, £\, IDs. 

** It would be difficult to find a doubt or question on the subject of 
the religious state that is not resolved clearly and sati&factorily in 
these volumes." — TaUtt. 

" In three octavo volumes and in a most readable form, Father 
Humphrey has given us 'the marrow of the doctrine' of Suarez, 
'separated from the dry bones of controversy.' The treatise is sure 
to be read extensively. For religious it must prove a work of immense 
value. The requirements and obligations of the religious state are 
fully explained, and such questions as novice^ihip, profession, and 
vows are entered into at very considerable length." — Catholic Times. 

" The original is a mine of learning as well as a masterly arrange- 
ment of fact and argument. But it is too voluminous for ordinary 
reading, and it was an excellent thought to prepare such a digest of it 
as may suit those who cannot give the necessary leisure to a perusal of 
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Catholic Controversy : A Reply to Dr. Littledale's 

" Plain Reasons." Fourth edition . . . .026 

'* Father Ryder, of the Birmingham Oratory, has now furnished 
in a small volume a masterly reply to this assailant trom without. 
It will chiefly be ttseful as an antidote to Dr. Litiledale's insidious 
misrepresentations of Catholic doctnne, and will, with G«>d's bloM- 
inir, QO vast good amongst those for whom it is intended. Tne 
lighter charms of a brillhint and graceful style are added to the 
solid merits of this handbook of contemporary controversy."— /rt«4 


Endowments of Man, &c. New and revised edition . 10 6 
Qroundwork of the Christian Virtues : A Course of 

Lectures 10 6 

" We do not hesitate to say that by the publication of the dis- 
courses Dr. UUathome has conferred a boon, not only on the 
members of his own communion, but on all serious and thinking 
Englishmen. The treatment of the whole subject is masterly and 
exuaustive." — Lirerpool Daily Post. 

'* A good and great book by a good and great man. This eloquent 
series of almost oracular utterauces is a gift to men of all nations, 
all creeds, and all moral systems."— JAe BritUh Mail. 

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